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Schumer’s anti-Netanyahu speech strengthens Bibi in Israel's war to defeat Hamas

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Schumer’s anti-Netanyahu speech strengthens Bibi in Israel's war to defeat Hamas

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JERUSALEM Having seen his lowest levels of support in months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity has gotten a bounce in the polls, which some say is partly due to the Biden administration and Democrats’ growing criticism against the Jewish state.  

Criticism grew this week from across the political spectrum after New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s speech calling for new elections.  

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“As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me: The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after Oct. 7,” Schumer said Thursday on the floor of the Senate. “The world has changed, radically, since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.” 

Israel’s Channel 14 published a survey Wednesday, a day before Schumer’s broadside against the Jewish state, noting the chance Netanyahu’s conservative bloc could garner an additional six seats in the parliament after Minister-without-Portfolio Gideon Sa’ar ended his partnership with Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party.  

SCHUMER CALLS FOR NEW ISRAELI LEADER TO REPLACE NETANYAHU IN SENATE FLOOR SPEECH 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, poses for a picture with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York on Capitol Hill in Washington Feb. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Polling shows Netanyahu would secure 56 seats in the Israeli Knesset to form a new government. A bloc of parties needs 62 mandates.  

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Mideast expert Caroline Glick told Fox News Digital this dynamic is playing out. 

“Schumer spoke about Netanyahu, but Netanyahu is simply acting in accordance with the demands of the public. As a result, calls from Schumer and the White House for Netanyahu’s ouster only strengthen him politically,” Glick said. 

The law of unintended consequences also might help Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister’s support could solidify and he could gain new followers due to Schumer’s efforts to dislodge a sitting head of state.  

The New York senator is the highest-ranking Jewish politician in Congress.  

Schumer’s anti-Netanyahu speech sent shock waves throughout the Jewish state as it aims to root out the last vestiges of the Hamas terrorist organization in Rafah, Gaza, as part of its ongoing self-defense war. 

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Biden and Netanyahu

President Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York Sept. 20, 2023.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

ISRAEL’S US AMBASSADOR SLAMS SCHUMER’S ‘UNHELPFUL’ ANTI-NETANYAHU SPEECH: ‘ISRAEL IS A SOVEREIGN DEMOCRACY’ 

“Charles Schumer, like the Biden administration, fundamentally misunderstands the war, and, as a result, cannot understand Israel’s behavior,” said Glick,  a former adviser to Netanyahu. “This is not a counterterror operation. This is a conventional war. Hamas did not carry out a terrorist attack on Oct. 7. 

“Hamas invaded Israel with the strength of a division. That division of terror soldiers seized villages, bases and kibbutzim as Hamas carried out a massive cyberattack against Israeli critical infrastructure and first response team and pummeled Israel with thousands of rockets.

“This is not a tactical battle. This is a strategic contest for survival. Either Israel survives or Hamas survives. Israelis overwhelmingly understand this, which is why 75% of Israelis demand the conquest of Rafah and oppose Palestinian statehood.” 

Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a gathering of Jewish leaders at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem Feb. 18, 2024.  (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

HOUSE GOP LEADERS CALL SCHUMER’S ISRAEL COMMENTS ‘INAPPROPRIATE,’ DEMAND APOLOGY IN IMPROMPTU PRESS CONFERENCE 

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Israelis fired back at Schumer’s call to oust Netanyahu.  

“Regardless of my opinion of Netanyahu and his fitness to serve, Senator Schumer’s call for new Israeli elections is deeply disrespectful of our democracy and sovereignty,” Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. during the Netanyahu administration, wrote on X. 

“Israel is an ally, not a vassal state. Along with the U.S., we’re one of the few countries never to have known a second of non-democratic government, and the only democracy never to have known a moment of peace. We certainly deserve that respect.”

On the streets of Jerusalem, Israelis had mixed views. Seated outside with his family at the Aroma café in the German Colony neighborhood, Dov Fox told Fox News Digital, “I don’t think foreign politicians should be dictating how foreign countries should vote.” 

He recognized that Schumer “has done a lot for Israel” but described his speech an “overstepping of boundaries.” 

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“Due to the [Israel] special relationship with the United States, Chuck Schumer is a very central actor there,” Avi Kay told Fox News Digital. “We need to pay attention to what is being said. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Chuck Schumer, I believe he has the best interests of Israel at heart.” 

Kay, who used Netanyahu’s nickname Bibi, taken from his full name Benjamin, said, “Bibi is more interested in staying in power and that is not advantageous.” 

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, is facing the ultimate test of his leadership after the Hamas massacre of 1,200 people Oct. 7. His legacy and his very political survival are on the line.

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Reggie Bush reinstated as 2005 Heisman Trophy winner. Changes in NCAA rules led to the decision

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Reggie Bush reinstated as 2005 Heisman Trophy winner. Changes in NCAA rules led to the decision

NEW YORK (AP) — Reggie Bush has been reinstated as the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner more than a decade after Southern California returned the award following an NCAA investigation that found he received what were impermissible benefits during his time with the Trojans, the Heisman Trust announced Wednesday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Reggie Bush back to the Heisman family in recognition of his collegiate accomplishments,” said Michael Comerford, president of The Heisman Trophy Trust. “We considered the enormous changes in college athletics over the last several years in deciding that now is the right time to reinstate the Trophy for Reggie. We are so happy to welcome him back.”

Bush had won the trophy awarded to the top player in college football after amassing more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scoring 18 touchdowns in 2005. His 784 first-place votes were the fifth most in Heisman history.

The Heisman Trust has returned the trophy to Bush and the replica to USC. Bush will be invited to all future Heisman Trophy ceremonies.

The Trust said in a statement that its decision followed a “deliberative process” in which it closely monitored changes in the college football landscape. That included the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 decision that questioned the legality of the NCAA’s amateurism model and opened the door to athlete compensation; the ability of college football players to be paid for their name, image, and likeness; and the NCAA’s recent proposal to remove the cap on education-related payments.

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“Recognizing that the compensation of student athletes is an accepted practice and appears here to stay, these fundamental changes in college athletics led the Trust to decide that now is the right time to return the Trophy to Bush, who unquestionably was the most outstanding college football player of 2005,” the Trust said.

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

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United Nations demands investigation after mass graves discovered at 2 Gaza hospitals raided by Israel

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United Nations demands investigation after mass graves discovered at 2 Gaza hospitals raided by Israel

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The United Nations called Tuesday for “a clear, transparent and credible investigation” of mass graves uncovered at two major hospitals in war-torn Gaza that were raided by Israeli troops.

Credible investigators must have access to the sites, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters, and added that more journalists need to be able to work safely in Gaza to report on the facts.

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Earlier Tuesday, U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk said he was “horrified” by the destruction of the Shifa medical center in Gaza City and Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis as well as the reported discovery of mass graves in and around the facilities after the Israelis left.

PELOSI CALLS ON NETANYAHU TO RESIGN, CONDEMNS HIM AS ‘OBSTACLE’ TO PEACE

He called for independent and transparent investigations into the deaths, saying that “given the prevailing climate of impunity, this should include international investigators.”

“Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law,” Türk said. “And the intentional killing of civilians, detainees and others who are ‘hors de combat’ (incapable of engaging in combat) is a war crime.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel on Tuesday called the reports of mass graves at the hospitals “incredibly troubling” and said U.S. officials have asked the Israeli government for information.

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U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, speaks during a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, on Aug. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)

The Israeli military said its forces exhumed bodies that Palestinians had buried earlier as part of its search for the remains of hostages captured by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. The military said bodies were examined in a respectful manner and those not belonging to Israeli hostages were returned to their place.

The Israeli military says it killed or detained hundreds of militants who had taken shelter inside the two hospital complexes, claims that could not be independently verified.

The Palestinian civil defense in the Gaza Strip said Monday that it had uncovered 283 bodies from a temporary burial ground inside the main hospital in Khan Younis that was built when Israeli forces were besieging the facility last month. At the time, people were not able to bury the dead in a cemetery and dug graves in the hospital yard, the group said.

The civil defense said some of the bodies were of people killed during the hospital siege. Others were killed when Israeli forces raided the hospital.

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Palestinian health officials say the hospital raids have destroyed Gaza’s health sector as it tries to cope with the mounting toll from over six months of war.

The issue of who could or should conduct an investigation remains in question.

For the United Nations to conduct an investigation, one of its major bodies would have to authorize it, Dujarric said.

“I think it’s not for anyone to prejudge the results or who would do it,” he said. “I think it needs to be an investigation where there is access and there is credibility.”

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, said after visiting Israel and the West Bank in December that a probe by the court into possible crimes by Hamas militants and Israeli forces “is a priority for my office.”

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The discovery of the graves “is another reason why we need a cease-fire, why we need to see an end to this conflict, why we need to see greater access for humanitarians, for humanitarian goods, greater protection for hospitals” and for the release of Israeli hostages, Dujarric said Monday.

In the Hamas attack that launched the war, militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

In response, Israel’s air and ground offensive in Gaza, aimed at eliminating Hamas, has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, around two-thirds of them children and women. It has devastated Gaza’s two largest cities, created a humanitarian crisis and led around 80% of the territory’s population to flee to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave.

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North Macedonia votes in presidential polls as EU membership bid looms

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North Macedonia votes in presidential polls as EU membership bid looms

The vote is the first in a series of polls that could decide whether the diverse Balkan country will ever join the EU.

Voting is under way in North Macedonia to elect a president ahead of an upcoming parliamentary election as the Balkan country continues to ponder its European Union membership bid.

The results of Wednesday’s polls are due later in the day, shortly after the polling stations close at 18:00 GMT.

The country has 1.8 million registered voters in a population of 2.3 million, and the turnout must be at least 40 percent for the result to be valid.

The 61-year-old incumbent President Stevo Pendarovski is a candidate of the pro-European Social Democrats running for a second five-year term and is challenged by the 70-year-old Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova from the opposition VMRO DPMNE coalition.

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The two offer different views on how to deal with neighbouring Bulgaria’s condition of securing a recognition of a Bulgarian ethnic minority in the constitution of North Macedonia, in exchange for its backing of Skopje’s EU bid.

Pendarovski and the ruling centre-left Social Democrats (SDSM) are prepared to make the amendments but lack the numbers to win a parliamentary vote.

The opposition coalition refuses to budge, saying any constitutional changes can come after North Macedonia joins the EU, a stance the government says is unrealistic.

EU membership talks for the Balkan state began in 2022 as part of a process expected to take years, and its candidacy for the 27-nation bloc dates back to 2005.

The country had already cleared another resistance to its membership bid from Greece in a 2019 move to change its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia. The Balkan state joined NATO in 2020.

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About 1.8 million registered voters can cast ballots on Wednesday for one of seven candidates who are competing for the largely ceremonial president’s post [Boris Grdanoski/AP Photo]

Voter Stavre Temelkovski told The Associated Press news agency that he had high expectations that North Macedonia would become a full-fledged EU member soon.

“I expect a civic movement to win, for us to be a part of all those pro-Western systems, and to start a process of healing for a state which has waited for almost three decades,” he said. “Many generations are exhausted.”

Parliamentary vote

The election on Wednesday comes ahead of a parliamentary vote on May 8.

If the presidential vote goes to a second round of voting, a possibility indicated by the results of state-released polls, a run-off vote will also be held on May 8.

The opposition’s Siljanovska-Davkova is expected to take 19.2 percent of the votes and Pendarovski 9.7 percent, according to state television. Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, a candidate for the DUI party, is forecast to come third with 6.6 percent of votes.

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In total, seven candidates are running for the largely ceremonial position after less than a month of campaigning, with discussions also ranging from the rule of law, fighting corruption to reducing poverty.

North Macedonia
Ruling Social Democratic Union of Macedonia’s presidential candidate and North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski votes during the presidential election [Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters]
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