Hardline Netanyahu Ministers Attack US as Israel Causes Headaches for Biden
01:34 GMT 07.02.2024 (Updated: 02:07 GMT 07.02.2024)
© AP Photo / Evan VucciUS President Joe Biden pauses as he listens to a question about the bombings at the Kabul airport that killed at least 12 U.S. service members, from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, in Washington
© AP Photo / Evan Vucci
The US president walks a fine line attempting to assuage the concerns of many Democratic Party voters while not alienating pro-Israel constituencies.
Hardline ministers in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government are causing headaches for Washington with their outspoken criticism of US President Joe Biden, according to reports in US media.
Two figures in particular threaten to damage Israeli relations with their crucial American ally even as the White House attempts to decrease tensions on all sides.
National security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and finance minister Bezalel Smotrich have long been considered the most controversial members of Netanyahu’s cabinet. Hailing from ultranationalist Zionist parties, the two figures are considered among the most extreme figures in Israeli politics. They’ve both been panned for comments widely seen as racist and anti-Arab, with Smotrich once remarking that a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank should be “wiped out.”
Smotrich and Ben Gvir have frequently criticized President Biden in recent weeks as the US leader struggles to politically navigate Israel policy.
Ben-Gvir criticized Biden for attempts to facilitate the transfer of aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, whose inhabitants are facing widespread hunger. Smotrich accused the US president of leading an anti-Semitic campaign when the White House placed sanctions on a handful of Israeli settlers engaged in West Bank violence.
The two figures have each played a role in justifying Israeli colonization of internationally-accepted Palestinian territory, with Ben-Gvir even distributing thousands of rifles to Israeli settlers. Both have expressed strong opposition to White House support for a so-called “two state solution” in the region, which would return a portion of historic Palestinian lands to their original inhabitants.
The inclusion of Smotrich and Ben-Gvir in Netanyahu’s cabinet, which allows him to rule with a narrow parliamentary majority, was a key concern for thousands of Israelis who launched protests in 2022 over the Israeli Prime Minister’s efforts to weaken judiciary oversight.
Former Israeli government minister Shulamit Aloni once admitted that accusations of anti-semitism are used cynically and indiscriminately against critics of Israel, confessing “it’s a trick,” in an interview with US media.
“We always use it,” said Aloni in a discussion with US journalist Amy Goodman. “When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country people are criticizing Israel then they are ‘anti-semitic.’”
“The organization is strong and has a lot of money,” said Aloni, referring to pro-Israel organizations in the United States.
7 November 2023, 21:46 GMT