US meddling in internal Israeli politics, pressuring Netanyahu not to appoint right-wing ministers

While the American officials did not identify Smotrich and Ben Gvir specifically by name, it was clear that the messages were referring to them.

By World Israel News Staff

Officials from President Joe Biden’s administrations have communicated their disapproval of Religious Zionism MKs Betzalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir being appointed to senior cabinet positions and insinuated that if they become government ministers, that could hurt cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.

While the American officials did not identify Smotrich and Ben Gvir specifically by name, it was clear that the messages were referring to them, according to a Ynet report.

The communications, which were sent to Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and his closest advisors along with senior defense ministry officials, urged the Likud leader to appoint someone with previous military experience to the role of Defense Minister.

That suggestion appeared to be a clear reference to Netanyahu’s rumored favorite for the position, former IDF General Yoav Galant.

Should Netanyahu appoint Smotrich and Ben Gvir to their desired ministerial positions, “it will be very difficult [for the U.S.] to continue the intimate and close relationship with the Israeli security establishment,” Ynet wrote.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu canceled meetings with the Religious Zionism and United Torah Judaism parties, sparking rumors that the prime minister-elect might decide to form a national unity government rather than a “full right” one, for which he had campaigned, and may be caving to the U.S. pressure.

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Smotrich, who served in a limited, non-combat position in the army, has publicly expressed his demand to be appointed Defense Minister, gathering support from Israel’s leading rabbis from the Religious Zionism movement for that position.

Ben Gvir, who did not serve in the military, has said that he wants to be made Public Security Minister. The role encompasses the responsibility for overseeing Israel’s police and all domestic security matters within the country.

According to recent reports, coalition talks between Netanyahu and the Religious Zionism party – which is the third-largest party in the Knesset and the second-largest in the right-wing bloc behind Likud – have come to an impasse over their demands for ministerial appointments.

In a statement to Ynet, the Religious Zionism party said they are “disturbed by the reports that Netanyahu opposes the appointment of Smotrich due to pressure from the Biden administration and the fear that he will work to regulate the settlements and boost construction in Judea and Samaria.

“We will not agree to surrender to foreign dictates and return to Netanyahu’s policy of freezing construction in the settlements [between] in 2009-2010.”