Biden Reportedly Preparing to Hold Netanyahu ‘Personally Responsible’ for Far-Right Cabinet Members

https://sputniknews.com/20221220/biden-reportedly-preparing-to-hold-netanyahu-personally-responsible-for-far-right-cabinet-members-1105652715.html

Biden Reportedly Preparing to Hold Netanyahu ‘Personally Responsible’ for Far-Right Cabinet Members

Biden Reportedly Preparing to Hold Netanyahu ‘Personally Responsible’ for Far-Right Cabinet Members

As the Israeli Knesset prepares to swear in the new coalition government, the White House is preparing for the fallout from some of the incoming… 20.12.2022, Sputnik International

2022-12-20T21:15+0000

2022-12-20T21:15+0000

2022-12-20T21:11+0000

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israel

benjamin netanyahu

bezalel smotrich

itamar ben-gvir

biden administration

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Benjamin Netanyahu, who was assigned by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to form a coalition government after a strong electoral showing last month, is laying the final preparations on the political deals with which he has stitched together a ruling majority coalition. However, that coalition includes several figures far to the right of the already-conservative Likud leader – figures about whom Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, has made clear its objections.Ben-Gvir is set to be Netanyahu’s Minister of Public Security, and Smotrich will control part of the Finance Ministry, with his Religious Zionism party also controlling Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the part of the defense ministry responsible for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in the Knesset.The US objections stem from fears that the new ministers will further antagonize the delicate situation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which have exploded in violence several times in recent years. The Biden administration has made clear it supports the creation of a future Palestinian state, and has encouraged the Israeli government to reopen such talks.It’s unclear what leverage Biden might have over Netanyahu’s administration other than strongly-worded statements, since he has already ruled out cutting US military aid to Israel. However, it could potentially see the US withholding help in expanding the Abraham Accords, a set of peace agreements with Arab states that had formerly refused to give Israel diplomatic recognition. Saudi Arabia reportedly recently told US diplomats it was interested in one day doing so.After the elections last month, in which Likud won a plurality of Knesset seats and Netanyahu was again tapped to form a government, the White House made clear its objections to the inclusion of Smotrich or Ben-Gvir in the new government, and has kept up that pressure in the weeks since.The party’s objection is somewhat ironic, since Israel in recent years barred several US lawmakers from entering the country, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), following their criticisms of Israeli policy.

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israel, benjamin netanyahu, bezalel smotrich, itamar ben-gvir, biden administration

israel, benjamin netanyahu, bezalel smotrich, itamar ben-gvir, biden administration

As the Israeli Knesset prepares to swear in the new coalition government, the White House is preparing for the fallout from some of the incoming administration’s more extremist members, according to US media reports.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who was assigned by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to form a coalition government after a strong electoral showing last month, is laying the final preparations on the political deals with which he has stitched together a ruling majority coalition. However, that coalition includes several figures far to the right of the already-conservative Likud leader – figures about whom Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, has made clear its objections.

On Tuesday, Biden administration officials reportedly made anonymous statements to US media in which they said US President Joe Biden is planning to hold Netanyahu “personally responsible” for his cabinet, including Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who have called for leveling the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and denying citizenship to non-Jews.

Ben-Gvir is set to be Netanyahu’s Minister of Public Security, and Smotrich will control part of the Finance Ministry, with his Religious Zionism party also controlling Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the part of the defense ministry responsible for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in the Knesset.

The US objections stem from fears that the new ministers will further antagonize the delicate situation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which have exploded in violence several times in recent years. The Biden administration has made clear it supports the creation of a future Palestinian state, and has encouraged the Israeli government to reopen such talks.

“Bibi says he can control his government, so let’s see him do just that,” an unnamed US official told Politico, using the statesman’s nickname.

It’s unclear what leverage Biden might have over Netanyahu’s administration other than strongly-worded statements, since he has already ruled out cutting US military aid to Israel. However, it could potentially see the US withholding help in expanding the Abraham Accords, a set of peace agreements with Arab states that had formerly refused to give Israel diplomatic recognition. Saudi Arabia reportedly recently told US diplomats it was interested in one day doing so.

Biden’s administration has previously raised its voice against the proposed expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, two Palestinian-majority areas beyond Israel’s 1948 borders that Israel has ruled since 1967. By contrast, Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, threw his complete support behind Israeli settlement expansion, endorsing Israel’s claims to have annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the latter of which was seized from Syria in 1967.

After the elections last month, in which Likud won a plurality of Knesset seats and Netanyahu was again tapped to form a government, the White House made clear its objections to the inclusion of Smotrich or Ben-Gvir in the new government, and has kept up that pressure in the weeks since.

Religious Zionism replied in an official statement, telling US ambassador to Israel Tom Nides that the party has “a lot of respect and appreciation for our ally the United States, the Biden administration should also respect Israeli democracy and not interfere in the establishment of an elected government.”

The party’s objection is somewhat ironic, since Israel in recent years barred several US lawmakers from entering the country, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), following their criticisms of Israeli policy.

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