update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu: Schumer opposes not just me, but the majority of Israelis

The government in Jerusalem represents the will of the people, the prime minister told "CNN."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. via video link from Israel on March 12, 2024. Source: Government Press Office/YouTube screenshot.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. via video link from Israel on March 12, 2024. Source: Government Press Office/YouTube screenshot.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday slammed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s demand for early elections in the Jewish state as “totally inappropriate,” telling CNN that the legislator is not just opposing his leadership, but also the will of the Israeli people.

“The majority of Israelis support the policies of my government. … It represents the policies supported by the majority of the people. If Senator Schumer opposes these policies, he’s not opposing me—he’s opposing the people of Israel,” Netanyahu told Dana Bash of CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday that Schumer described as a “major address” on a possible two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, the Democrat labeled some of Netanyahu’s senior Cabinet members and “bigots” and “extremists” and called for an early election.

Schumer claimed that he was speaking on behalf of “mainstream Jewish Americans” to represent their views on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He suggested that Washington should condition or cut off military aid to Jerusalem unless a new government is formed.

Netanyahu reiterated on Sunday that Israelis should decide when an election should be held, denouncing Schumer’s demand as “ridiculous.”

“It’s like after 9/11, you’re in the midst of fighting the war against Al-Qaeda, and an Israeli would say: ‘You know, what we need now is either new elections in the U.S., or if your system doesn’t allow it, then President Bush should resign and we should have an alternative leader. … You don’t do that to a sister democracy, an ally,” the premier charged.

According to a survey published on March 10, even Israelis who do not trust Netanyahu’s leadership continue to back some of his key war policies, including his opposition to the two-state solution and his insistence that the Israel Defense Forces defeat Hamas in Rafah.

Almost three in four Jewish Israelis believe U.S. support for Israel has dwindled following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, the poll found.

Fight for civilization

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News just minutes after the CNN interview, Netanyahu noted that the majority of Americans “understand that Israel is fighting this battle of civilization.

“The future of the Middle East, the future of many Muslims, the future of Gazans is dependent on our victory, and we don’t intend to give up,” he stressed.

Netanyahu also addressed criticism of the Biden administration, which has also reportedly threatened to withhold some military aid to Israel if Jerusalem crosses the president’s “red line” of conquering Rafah.

“Look, the president and I have agreed that we have to destroy Hamas. We can’t leave a quarter of the Hamas terror army in place; they’re there in Rafah,” he said.

According to Netanyahu, Biden’s Rafah “red line” is equivalent to demanding that “after the allies fought back, gone through Normandy, went through Germany and say: ‘Well, we’ll leave a quarter of the Nazi army in place and we won’t go into Berlin, the last stronghold.

“I think that if the president means by that that we should first enable the safe departure of the civilian population from Rafah before we go in; we agree with that, we don’t need any prompting,” he added.

Netanyahu praised both Biden and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for their support of the Jewish state.

Ahead of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said “it is no secret that international pressure against us is increasing.

“There are those trying to stop the war now,” continued the premier. “They do this by making false accusations against the IDF, against the Israeli government and against the prime minister of Israel. They do this by trying to bring about elections in the midst of the war.

“So, let’s be clear,” continued Netanyahu, “if we stop the fighting now it means that Israel has lost the war, and we will not allow that. That is why we must not give in to these pressures, and we will not do so.”

Last week, a “very senior” Israeli official slammed a U.S. intelligence report that claimed Netanyahu’s government “may be in jeopardy,” amid incessant criticism by Washington over the war against Hamas.

“Israel is not a protectorate of the U.S. but rather an independent and democratic country whose citizens are the ones who elect the government. We expect our friends to act to overthrow the terror regime of Hamas and not the elected government in Israel,” said the official.

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