Netanyahu vows to stand up against US pressure not to bring Ben-Gvir into new government

“We are a democracy, we will decide who will be in our government,” the opposition leader stated.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Tuesday to stand up against pressure from the United States not to appoint a prominent right-wing lawmaker as a minister in a future government after the upcoming Knesset election.

Speaking with Kol Berama Radio Tuesday morning, Netanyahu pushed back against recent warnings by U.S. officials that the inclusion of MK Itamar Ben-Gvir – chairman of the Otzma Yehudit Party, which is running on a joint ticket with the Religious Zionist Party – in a possible future government would harm relations between the United States and Israel.

“We are a democracy, and we will decide who will be in the next government,” Netanyahu said. “I know how to stand up for us. My ability is to not bow my head, and to say ‘no’ when necessary.”

Netanyahu specifically referenced a conversation with New Jersey’s senior senator, Democrat Robert Menendez.

During a trip to Israel last month, Menendez told Netanyahu that the inclusion of “extremist” and “polarizing” right-wing parties could harm U.S.-Israel relations.

According to Axios, quoting sources, Menendez told Netanyahu he has “serious concerns” over a possible partnership with “extremist and polarizing individuals like Ben Gvir.”

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Menendez did not back down from the issue even after Netanyahu expressed his irritation regarding the senator’s advice.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu chided Menendez over his comments, defending Ben-Gvir while criticizing the current government’s inclusion of the United Arab List (Ra’am), despite the party’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I said to Menendez: ‘Are you talking to me about [Ben Gvir] who believes in the State of Israel and supports IDF soldiers? I haven’t heard a word about [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz and [Prime Minister Yair] Lapid partnering with [Ra’am leader] Mansour Abbas and the Muslim Brotherhood, who deny Israel as a Jewish state and go to the mourning tents of murderers of Jews.”

Earlier this week, Netanyahu said he would “certainly” consider appointing Ben-Gvir as a minister in a future government.

Netanyahu was speaking at a conference hosted by Israel’s Channel 14 on Sunday evening where he was asked point blank whether Ben-Gvir could be a minister in his cabinet.

“He certainly can; anyone can,” Netanyahu said. “He will be, and whoever is elected from the Religious Zionism [party can serve as a minister]. But I assume [Ben Gvir] will be elected, and it’s completely clear.”