In his recent remarks about the far-right government in Israel, US President Joe Biden blamed the Netanyahu’s cabinet as having ‘most extreme members ever’, said Israel-Saudi Arabia’s normalization is a tough task, and once again refused to invite Netanyahu to the White House.
In an interview with the CNN this Sunday night, US President Joe Biden said that coalition government in Israel under the rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has some “of the most extreme members” he’s seen in Israel, and strongly rebuked it for its expansionist policies, noting that the far-right cabinet ministers back settling “anywhere they want” in the West Bank.
Biden also said that chances for Israel-Saudi Arabia normalizations of relations are slim and there is a long way a head to make this happen, but his administration will continue its efforts in this regard.
But Biden’s resentment from the Israeli government and particularly Netanyahu couldn’t show itself better when the US president refused to answer a question on when he intends to invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House. Dogging the question, Biden said instead that the Israeli President Isaac Herzog will be coming to Washington next week.
Herzog was once invited by Congressional leaders to address a joint session in honor of Israel’s 75th year of independence back in April. He is also expected to meet with Biden at the White House, but those invites are traditionally extended only a few days ahead of time. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has yet to receive an invitation from Biden, a rare could shoulder that has never had an equal in the year-long relations between Washington and Tel Aviv.
Before his Sunday remarks, Biden had told reporters in late March that Netanyahu would not be coming in the “near term” amid US frustration over the Israeli government’s effort to radically overhaul the country’s judiciary.
Netanyahu’s coalition includes far-right lawmakers Bezalel Smotrich, who serves as finance minister, and Itamar Ben Gvir, the national security minister, both of whom vowed to oppose a series of measures aimed at bolstering the Palestinian Authority and have voiced fierce opposition to the prospect of a state for Palestine, pushing for settlement expansion and more Israeli control in the West Bank, as well as limiting the power of Israel’s supreme Court in their own favor.
Far-right ministers furious at Biden’s comments!
Furious at Biden’s tough comments, Religious Zionism party head and adamant settlement advocate Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, reacted and said that it is Biden’s “right to express criticism,” and it is “our right and our duty to continue to act to fulfill the mission of the citizens of Israel, to defend ourselves and build our homeland.”
Speaking during an interview on Channel 14, Smotrich also noted that the United States “wants two states for two peoples and we think it’s suicide”. Smotrich also holds a ministerial post in the Defense Ministry that grants him extensive authority over settlement construction.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who joins Smotrich as one of the White House’s personae non gratae, said that “the USA is our wonderful friend and we love it, but I say to President Biden: The Land of Israel is for the people of Israel, according to the Torah of Israel.”
“In what way am I an extremist? By handing out weapons to the citizens of Israel so that they can defend themselves? In that I give full backing to our soldiers and officers? I invite Biden to tour Jerusalem and Hebron to see that our extremism is extreme, immense love for the State of Israel,” Ben Gvir continued.