Netanyahu forbids ministers from meeting with US officials until PM invited to White House

“As long as I don’t visit there, no one does,” the prime minister stated.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett visited the White House in August 2021, only two months since being appointed to the premiership.

In contrast, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was reelected to the position over four months ago and formed his new coalition government two months ago, has yet to receive an invitation from the American president.

In fact, there has been no hint to date of a forthcoming invitation.

Netanyahu has now forbidden any of his ministers from meeting with US government officials, although some have expressed an interest in doing so, Hebrew-language N12 news site reported Tuesday. “As long as I don’t visit there, no one does,” the prime minister stated.

“The arrival of any of the ministers to the US will emphasize his lack of arrival, so this is the directive passed to them on behalf of Netanyahu, except for Ron Dermer, who serves as a kind of messenger on his behalf,” sources familiar with the matter told N12.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is currently in Washington, having been invited to speak at an Israel Bonds event – despite protests from most American Jewish organizations. He has not met with US officials, but that was because the Americans stated in advance that they would refuse to see him.

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Hours after the terror attack in Huwara last month that claimed the lives of Israeli brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, Smotrich ‘liked’ a tweet from a local council member which called for Huwara – where Palestinians had celebrated the murders by distributing sweets in the streets – to be “wiped out.”

When journalists asked why he liked the tweet, Smotrich replied that it was “because I think the town of Huwara needs to be wiped out,” adding that he believed the “State of Israel should do it.”

The Americans were incensed.

Smotrich then walked back his statement, saying he spoke in the “heat of emotions.”

“I didn’t mean to harm innocent civilians when I said that we need to erase Huwara. People sometimes use harsh terms which they don’t mean literally to give a strong message. It happens to everyone,” he said.

He later apologized in a lengthy Facebook post, saying that he would do some “soul-searching.”

Nevertheless, the Zionist Organization of America and Orthodox Union were the only Jewish organizations to publicly confirm they would meet with Smotrich.

Some Jewish groups, including the Jewish Democratic Council of America, protested outside the bonds conference Sunday night, where Smotrich spoke, along with anti-Israel protesters.