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US Senate majority leader urges Israel to make 'significant course corrections'

March 14, 2024 at 5:37 pm

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the press alongside other members of Senate Democratic leadership during a press conference following weekly policy luncheons on March 12, 2024 in Washington, DC. [Nathan Posner – Anadolu Agency]

Israel must make “significant course corrections” to achieve peace with the Palestinians, the US Senate majority leader said today as he called for new elections in Israel, criticising Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership.

“After five months of suffering on both sides of this conflict, our thinking must turn urgently to how we can achieve lasting peace and endure and ensure prosperity and security for both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people in the Middle East.”

“I believe that to achieve that lasting peace, which we so long for, Israel must make some significant course corrections,” the senior Democrat Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor about a two-state solution for Israel and Palestinians.

Schumer urged talks to do everything possible to get a ceasefire and hostage release deal.

He said it is a “grave mistake” for Israel to reject a two-state solution.

“As a staunch defender of Israel, I rise today to say unequivocally, this is a grave mistake for Israel, for Palestinians, for the region, and for the world.”

“The only real and sustainable solution to this decades-old conflict is a negotiated two-state solution, a demilitarised Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in equal measures of peace, security, prosperity, dignity and mutual recognition,” he said.

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To achieve a two-state solution, the reality is that things must change, said Schumer.

He added there are four “major obstacles” standing in the way: “Hamas and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways. Radical right-wing Israelis in government and society, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” he said.

“And if we fail to overcome them, then Israel and the West Bank and Gaza will be trapped in the same violent state of affairs they’ve experienced for the last 75 years,” Schumer stressed.

Turning to the Israeli premier, Schumer said Netanyahu has “all too frequently bowed to the demands of extremists.”

The Democrat leader said he believes Netanyahu has “lost his way” by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.

“Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah,” he said. “As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me that Netanyahu’s coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7.”

Five months into the conflict, Schumer said it is clear that Israelis need to “take stock of the situation and ask: ‘Must we change course?'”

“At this critical juncture, I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel, at a time when so many Israelis have lost their confidence in the vision and direction of their government.”

“I also believe a majority of the Israeli public will recognise the need for change and I believe that holding a new election, once the war starts to wind down, would give Israelis an opportunity to express their vision for the post war future,” he added.

Schumer said if Netanyahu’s government remains in power after the war, the US will have “no choice but to play a more active role” in shaping Israeli policy by using its leverage.

“The United States bond with Israel is unbreakable. But if extremists continue to unduly influence Israeli policy, then the administration should use the tools at its disposal to make sure our support for Israel is aligned with our broader goal of achieving long-term peace and stability in the region,” he said.

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