Biden slams ‘most extreme’ Israeli gov’t, ministers are ‘part of the problem’

“This is one of the most extreme cabinets I’ve seen, and I go back to Golda Meir,” the American president told CNN in an interview.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

In an interview with CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated his opposition to Israeli building in Judea and Samaria and criticized ministers in the democratically elected government.

“This is one of the most extreme cabinets I’ve seen, and I go back to Golda Meir,” said the president, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. Meir served as the Israeli prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

“Bibi, I think, is trying to work through how we can work through his existing problems in terms of his coalition,” Biden said, adding that his administration is in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It’s not all Israel now in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], all Israel’s problem,” he said, acknowledging a “vacuum of extremism” among Palestinians, but they [Israelis] are a part of the problem, and particularly those individuals in the cabinet who say, ‘We can settle anywhere we want. [The Palestinians] have no right to be here…

“We were talking with them regularly, trying to tamp down what’s going on and hopefully, Bibi will continue to move toward moderation and change.”

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Biden was apparently referring to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who respectively head the right-wing Religious Zionist and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) parties.

Last week, however, Likud MK Amit Halevi, directing his remarks to the Biden administration, said the U.S. should not be concerned when Jews return to their homeland. And Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, commenting on a UN resolution against Israeli settlements, told the world body that Israeli building permits in Judea and Samaria “are not an impediment to peace, and the building will not stop.

“Constructing homes in existing communities across Judea and Samaria is not an inflammatory step,” he stated, adding that “Judea and Samaria is the heartland of the Jewish people. We are called ‘Jews’ because we are from Judea.”

He also challenged the narrative of a cycle of violence in the region, noting that terrorists murdering Israelis are “as a result of poisonous Palestinian incitement and Israel is taking action to defend itself. There is no ‘cycle!’”

‘Relentless’ Palestinian terrorism

“Palestinian terror attacks have been relentless, regardless of Israel’s various governments. Right-wing, left-wing, centrist—it makes no difference to the Palestinians,” said Erdan. “No matter who the prime minister is or who sits in the Cabinet, Palestinian incitement persists and as a result, Palestinian terror persists.”

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Israel’s former UN envoy Danny Danon, Chairman of World Likud (Netanyahu’s party), took issue with Biden’s comments Sunday night.

“We respect the USA, our great friendship overseas, but the policy of the State of Israel will be determined only by the government in Jerusalem that was democratically elected by the people of Israel. The American people understand very well that in a democratic country, policy is determined only by an elected government,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Palestinian terrorism has been rampant, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction has called for an “armed intifada,” telling members to prepare for full-scale conflict with Israel, including indiscriminate attacks on Israeli targets.

Notably, the attacks would not be limited to Judea and Samaria; rather, the would target “the Zionist enemy and all of its components, including within the fragile heart of the entity, Tel Aviv.”

Following the IDF’s recent successful counterterrorism raid in Jenin, Netanyahu stated that the operation was “not a one-off. We will eradicate terrorism wherever we see it and we will strike at it.”

As part of its ongoint efforts to pressure Israel, the Biden administration recently warned that continued Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria would endanger Israel’s joining the Visa Waiver Program.

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Biden has also refused to invite Netanyahu, who won the national election in November 2022, to Washington. Asked in the CNN interview whether an invitation is forthcoming, he did not answer directly, saying only that President Isaac Herzog would be visiting the White House.

Israel-Saudi relations

The interview also touched on the prospects for normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“We’re a long way from there. We got a lot to talk about,” Biden said.

“So, we’re making progress in the region. And it depends upon the conduct and what is asked of us for them to recognize Israel…

“Quite frankly, I don’t think they have much of a problem with Israel. And whether or not we would provide a means by which they could have civilian nuclear power and be a guarantor of their security, that’s – I think that’s a little way off.”