Nancy Pelosi calls for Netanyahu to resign as she slams his ‘terrible’ actions in Gaza

A woman and a girl search for items through the rubble of a collapsed building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 24, 2024. Former house speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned Netanyahu for his actions in the territory on Wednesday (AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by The Independent

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, the most high-profile Democrat to do so over his “terrible” actions in Gaza.

“We recognize Israel’s right to protect itself. We reject the policy and the practice of Netanyahu — terrible. What could be worse than what he has done in response?” Pelosi told Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE, during a visit to the country on Monday.

She noted this week’s resignation of Israel’s intelligence chief, MajorGeneral Aharon Haliva, over the failure to prevent the 7 October attack by militant group Hamas. Of Mr Netanyahu, she then added: “He should resign. He’s ultimately responsible.”

The Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October killed 1,139 people including 764 civilians and saw at least 248 taken hostage. Israel’s subsequent offensive in Gaza has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

The former speaker joins a growing chorus of Democrats arguing that Netanyahu presents a personal obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and should step down. His right-wing coalition government has supported settler movements involved in violent clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank.

Pelosi was asked by interviewer Áine Lawlor if Netanyahu was a direct obstacle to the peace process. She responded: “I don’t know whether he’s afraid of peace, incapable of peace, or just doesn’t want peace. But he has been an obstacle to the two-state solution.”

In early April, the ex-speaker signed a letter with dozens of other Democrats calling on the Biden administration to halt the transfers of weapons to Israel until an investigation into the killing of seven aid workers by Israel’s military was completed.

However this weekend, she voted for Congress’ $95bn foreign aid package that included $26.38bn for Israel.

Her remarks follow a Senate floor speech by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, her former close colleague in congressional leadership, who rankled the US’s Israeli allies by calling for new elections in the country.

He also named Mr Netanyahu as one of the “four major obstacles” to peace along with Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and other right-wing Israeli leaders.

“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,” Schumer said.

That speech was condemned by Republicans, who said that Mr Schumer was meddling in the internal affairs of a US ally.

Joe Biden has sought to maintain his relationship with Mr Netanyahu even as the White House has consistently struggled to answer in concrete terms how the US president is holding his Israeli counterpart accountable or to point to meaningful improvements in Israel’s treatment of Gazan civilians, and aid workers.

The president is reportedly privately furious with Mr Netanyahu’s handling of the war. However, his administration continues to support the transfer of weapons to Israel’s military over condemnations from progressives in his party.

The Biden administration may take one step towards accountability for Israel soon: it is expected to sanction an Israeli battalion called Netzah Yehuda, formed to accommodate ultra-Orthodox members of the military including Haredi Jewish men, that is known for fostering rightwing ideologies and stands accused of human rights abuses.

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Source: The Independent