The White House effectively embraced remarks from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday that called for new elections in Israel to replace Netanyahu, described by the New York Democrat as “a major obstacle to peace.”

Biden said Friday that Schumer delivered a “good speech.”

Asked about the president’s praise, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that Biden “knows that the sentiments that Leader Schumer expressed in that very passionate speech yesterday are shared by many, many Americans.”

Privately, White House officials expressed a similar sentiment. “We are not exercised over it. There is no handwringing,” one White House official said of the speech.

Schumer’s remarks on the Senate floor highlighted divisions within the Democratic Party that will be difficult for the president to navigate as he campaigns for a second term. His position is likely to embolden progressives who want to see it backed up by a meaningful shift in U.S. policy to Israel, specifically using leverage by withholding aid and weapons transfers unless the Netanyahu government changes course.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., praised Schumer’s speech but said it’s not enough.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. And the people of Israel have got to understand that they are increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. There’s global outrage at the Netanyahu right-wing extremist government literally causing starvation of hundreds of thousands of children in Gaza,” Sanders told NBC News. “We cannot continue to fund Netanyahu’s war machine.”

But other Democrats, including Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., and Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., disagreed with Schumer’s calls for replacing Netanyahu.

“Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East, and as a democracy, it is up to the Israeli people to determine their political future,” said Rosen, who faces a competitive re-election bid this fall.

The dynamic could further complicate the path to passing a package combining aid for Ukraine and Israel, with progressives like Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., opposed to an effort to provide funding for the two U.S. allies unless they are conditions for Israel.

Biden embraced the bearhug approach to Israel immediately after Oct. 7 because he believed it was the most effective way to have influence on Israel as it carried out its military assault on Hamas. But that strategy quickly began to reveal its flaws, with Israel ignoring Biden’s pleas for doing more to protect Palestinian civilians and increase the amount of humanitarian aid getting into Gaza. 

Now, Biden and Netanyahu have not spoken in a month. Their last call was on Feb. 15 and focused largely on Rafah, according to the White House.

White House officials said Biden was told in advance of Schumer’s speech but that no one in the administration coordinated with the senator on them. Yet Biden’s own comments last weekend may have laid the groundwork for Schumer’s public statement.

When Biden said Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel,” that signaled a significant break in the relationship. The president said Netanyahu is not paying enough “attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken.”

“It’s contrary to what Israel stands for,” Biden told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart last week. “And I think it’s a big mistake.”

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