Diaspora Minister to Schumer: ‘If you want to change Israel’s government, immigrate to Israel and vote’

The offer came in reaction to the NY senator’s remarks after War Minister Benny Gantz said elections should take place in September.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli invited Senator Charles Schumer to come live in Israel Wednesday after the senior Jewish politician made his second call for early elections in the Jewish state.

“Dear Senator Schumer, with your tremendous enthusiasm for Israeli politics, don’t forget that the gates of Israel are open to you,” Chikli posted to his X account. “You are more than welcome to immigrate and vote in the next elections. Until then, please respect our democracy.”

Schumer had written earlier in the day, “When a leading member of Israel’s war cabinet calls for early elections and over 70% of the Israeli population agrees according to a major poll, you know it’s the right thing to do.”

His post was linked to a Jerusalem Post story on War Minister and National Unity chairman Benny Gantz telling journalists that it would be good for the country to go to the polls near the first anniversary of the ongoing war against Hamas.

“In order for us to maintain unity, the public must know that we will soon come and ask for their trust,” Gantz said a day after criticizing a violent anti-government protest in Jerusalem. “Let us not ignore October 7. For this reason, we must agree on an election date around September.”

“Elections, he added, “will prevent a split in the nation, because soon we will renew the trust between the people and their leaders.”

Schumer’s claim that a large majority in Israel favors early elections is correct, but also possibly misleading.

An Israeli Democracy Institute survey from January showed that 38% of respondents said that new elections should be held only when the war ends. Only 33% said that that they should be announced now and held in three months, which is the minimum time possible according to Israeli law.

The split between Arabs and Jews was stark on this question, with 57% of Arabs calling for snap elections as opposed to 28% of Jews. The most popular response of Jews (41%) was to hold them after the war is over, which was the answer given by 25% of the Arab respondents.

Schumer angered many in Israel when in a major address from the Senate floor last month, he pushed for the creation of a Palestinian state as a way to bring calm to the region and called for early elections in Israel to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had “lost his way” and was an “obstacle to peace.”

“If Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current coalition remains in power after the war begins to wind down … then the United States will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course,” he said, in part.

Netanyahu denounced the blatant threat of interference in Israel’s internal affairs, reminding the senator that his government had been democratically elected and therefore was completely legitimate.

The vast majority of Israelis also back the government’s stance awarding the Palestinians a state after October 7 would hand them the ultimate prize for committing the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.