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Schiff: Schumer criticism ‘should be an earthquake in Israel’

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday argued that while he “wouldn’t go as far” as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) recent call for new elections in Israel, he believes the remarks should serve as “an earthquake in Israel.”

“And while I wouldn’t go as far as the leader in setting out the timing of elections, the fact that Israel’s most staunch defender in the U.S. Congress, Chuck Schumer, should be making these remarks should be an earthquake in Israel,” Schiff said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are Israel’s most important ally. We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Schumer last week argued it is time for new elections, claiming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “lost his way.” The remarks drew a rebuke from Republicans, who argued Schumer was attempting to meddle with Israel’s elections.

In what he called a “major address” on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, Schumer argued Netanyahu is in a coalition with “far-right extremists” and “has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza.” Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history, sided with President Biden’s call for a temporary pause in fighting and pushed for a two-state solution in the region.

“I want to highlight that Chuck Schumer laid the responsibility for this war exactly where it lies, and that is with Hamas terrorists that attacked and murdered and raped and tortured Israelis on October 7, and continues to hold hostages, continues in a cowardly way to use the Palestinian people as human shields, Hamas terrorists hiding behind women and children in Gaza,” Schiff said Sunday. “So, the responsibility lies with Hamas. But I also agree with Leader Schumer’s comments regarding the necessity of reducing civilian casualties in Gaza.”

The Palestinian militant group Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, while about 250 others were taken hostage. Israel’s retaliatory bombardment of Gaza has left more than 31,000 Palestinians dead in the enclave, according to The Associated Press. Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Schiff said the U.S. is holding Israel “to a high standard” and recognizes the “need” for a two-state solution.

“That ultimately is the way to not only resolve this conflict but prevent future conflicts from taking place. So, I think these remarks are incredibly important,” he said. “And, as I would not go as far as them, I also recognize the significance of them coming from this incredible champion.”

Schiff, the Democratic nominee for California’s Senate race, is vying for the seat vacated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), which is currently being filled by appointee Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.). Butler opted against a primary bid.

Netanyahu called Schumer’s remarks “totally inappropriate” in a separate interview on “State of the Union.”

“It’s inappropriate to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something the Israeli public does on its own,” he said.

“We’re not a banana republic,” he continued. “I think the only government that we should be working on to bring down now is the terrorist tyranny in Gaza.”

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