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Top Senator Warn Bibi That Having Far-Right Lawmakers in Gov’t Would Harm US Ties
By Staff, Agencies
Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, recently warned “Israeli” opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu that including extreme-right lawmakers in a potential future government would harm US-“Israel” relations, according to a report Saturday.
According to the Axios report, Menendez made the comments during a visit to the “Israeli” entity last month. Citing two unnamed American sources familiar with the meeting, the report said Menendez raised his concerns over Netanyahu’s cooperation with far-right parties, specifically mentioning Otzma Yehudit and its leader Itamar Ben Gvir.
Former prime minister Netanyahu recently brokered a deal to get Otzma Yehudit and Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party to run together in a bid to improve his chances of returning to power.
Ben Gvir has reportedly been offered a senior ministerial position of a Netanyahu-led government is established.
Netanyahu said ahead of previous elections that he did not believe the extremist Ben Gvir was fit to be a minister. However, without Ben Gvir’s support, Netanyahu likely has little to no chance of leading the next government.
The report said Menendez told Netanyahu he had “serious concerns” about including “extremist and polarizing individuals like Ben Gvir” in a future government, citing the unnamed US sources.
“The senator told Netanyahu he needed to realize the composition of such a coalition could seriously erode bipartisan support in Washington, which has been a pillar of the bilateral relationship between the US and Israel,” one of the sources cited by Axios said.
One of the sources said Netanyahu was “pissed off” by Menendez’s comments.
Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the report, the news site said, and US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration does not interfere in the “Israeli’ entity’s internal politics.
Ben Gvir, meanwhile, responded by blaming Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who also serves as foreign minister, for “destroying” the entity’s foreign relations, accusing him of “dragging” Menendez into interfering in the “Israeli” election process.
Ben Gvir is an admirer of late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated transferring 1948 Palestinians out of Occupied Palestine. He was convicted of incitement to racism in 2007 for holding a sign at a protest reading “Expel the Arab enemy.”
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