Schumer says Israel needs ‘significant course corrections’ for peace

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 10:05 AM

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday that Israel must make “significant course corrections” to achieve lasting peace with the Palestinians.

In a Senate speech he said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “no longer fits the needs of Israel” after Oct. 7.

Democrat Schumer, long a strong supporter of Israel and the highest-ranking Jewish elected U.S. official, also said it would be a “grave mistake” for Israel to reject a two-state solution and urged negotiators in the Israel-Gaza conflict to do everything possible to secure a ceasefire, free hostages and get aid into Gaza.

He criticized Palestinians who support the militant group Hamas that carried out the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, as well as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas while advocating for new elections in Israel.

“If Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current coalition remains in power after the war begins to wind down, and continues to pursue dangerous and inflammatory policies that test existing U.S. standards for assistance, then the United States will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course,” Schumer said.

“As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own leaders, and we should let the chips fall where they may. But the important thing is that Israelis are given a choice. There needs to be a fresh debate about the future of Israel after Oct. 7,” Schumer said.

“In my opinion, that is best accomplished by holding an election,” he said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Katharine Jackson; editing by Howard Goller)