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Biden praises Schumer's "good speech" criticizing Netanyahu

Schumer calls for new election in Israel
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calls on Israel to hold election to replace prime minister 03:26

Washington — President Biden praised Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's speech that criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling it "a good speech," though he declined to elaborate. 

Mr. Biden said Friday the White House was given advance notice of Schumer's speech, in which the New York Democrat and highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the U.S. called Netanyahu a "major obstacle to peace" and said he "lost his way by allowing his political survival to take the precedence over the best interests of Israel."

"He has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows," Schumer said Thursday in a speech on the Senate floor. "Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah."

Schumer, who has long supported Israel, also called on its government to hold a new election, saying many Israelis have lost confidence in their government and it was "the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision making process about the future of Israel. 

"I'm not going to elaborate on the speech," Mr. Biden told reporters. "He made a good speech, and I think he expressed a serious concern shared not only by him, but by many Americans." 

Mr. Biden has supported Israel's right to defend itself in response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas, but has become more critical of Netanyahu's government amid a humanitarian crisis and increasing civilian death toll in Gaza. He is also facing pressure from some Democrats to stop arming Israel over its conduct during the war against Hamas. 

John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said Friday that Mr. Biden was not calling for new elections. 

"That's going to be up to the Israeli people to decide," Kirby said, adding that Schumer's remarks "resonate with many Americans out there." 

"For our part, we're going to keep supporting Israel in their fight against Hamas," Kirby said. "We're going to keep urging them to reduce civilian casualties, and we're going to keep working to get a temporary cease-fire in place so we can get the hostages back home with their families and more additional aid into the people of Gaza." 

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