‘We’re Not a Banana Republic,’ Netanyahu Says, Rejecting Criticism From U.S.

The rift over the war in Gaza between Israel and the United States, its closest ally, broadened on Sunday when Israel’s prime minister accused a top-ranking American lawmaker of treating his country like a “banana republic.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing increasing pressure to negotiate a cease-fire, lashed out at Senator Chuck Schumer over his call for elections to be held in Israel when the war winds down. In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Netanyahu suggested that Mr. Schumer, the Senate majority leader, was trying to topple his government and said his call for an election was “totally inappropriate.”

“That’s something that Israel, the Israeli public, does on its own,” he said. “We’re not a banana republic.”

On Thursday, Mr. Schumer, a Democrat from New York who is the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, delivered a scathing speech on the Senate floor, accusing Mr. Netanyahu of letting his political survival supersede “the best interests of Israel” and of being “too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza.”

The speech was indicative of the widening gap between Israel and the United States over the war and mounting frustrations in Washington with Mr. Netanyahu’s policies. President Biden praised Mr. Schumer’s speech, though he stopped short of endorsing the call for a new election.

Among the most contentious issues: how to get food and aid into the Gaza Strip.

With the humanitarian crisis worsening, the United States this month started airdropping food and water into the enclave. On Friday,a maritime shipment of aid reached northern Gaza’s shores, the first to do so in nearly two decades. Another shipment of essential goods is expected to soon set sail for Gaza from Cyprus.

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