US embassy in Israel snubs Smotrich, Ben-Gvir, leaving them off July 4th invitation list

Biden administration continues to boycott Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionist party ministers, excluding them from upcoming celebration at US embassy in Jerusalem.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

The American embassy in Israel declined to invite two high-ranking Israeli government ministers from the right-wing Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionist party factions, Ha’aretz reported Monday.

In keeping with the Biden administration’s policy of boycotting members of the two right-wing parties, the U.S. mission to Israel left Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir off the invitation list for the American embassy’s pre-July 4th celebration in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The report claimed that the U.S. mission to Israel has blacklisted all members of the two parties, along with Noam, the one-man faction which ran on a joint list with Smotrich and Ben-Gvir in 2022.

The three parties received a total 516,470 votes in last year’s election, making the united ticket the third largest slate for the Knesset, with just under 11% of the total vote, following the Likud, which received 23% of the vote, and Yesh Atid, which received just under 18%.

In response to the report, the American mission to Israel issued a statement, declining to confirm which dignitaries are or are not invited, citing security needs. “The guest list for the event includes those who have close work ties with the embassy. We are prohibited from publishing the guest list for security reasons.”

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According to the Ha’aretz report, a number of government ministers and senior Opposition members are on the embassy’s guest list, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (Likud), Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat (Likud), Opposition Leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), former Defense Minister Benny Gantz (National Unity), Labor party chief MK Merav Michaeli, and former Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu).

Since the November 2022 Knesset election, senior U.S. officials have signaled that the Biden administration will not cooperate with members of either the Religious Zionist party or Otzma Yehudit.

Reports of pressure by the Biden administration on Netanyahu not to appoint Smotrich as Defense Minister led Smotrich to openly chastise the White House, demanding the U.S. not interfere in Israeli democracy.

In March, the Biden administration reportedly mulled barring Smotrich from entering the U.S. over his calls to demolish the Palestinian Arab village of Huwara, following a deadly terrorist attack in the village.