update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Likud minister says Biden in cahoots with Lapid, Barak

The U.S. president's statements are coordinated with the opposition figures, Amichai Chikli said.

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a press conference with then-interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022. Photo by Emil Salman/POOL.
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a press conference with then-interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022. Photo by Emil Salman/POOL.

When U.S. President Joe Biden criticizes the Netanyahu government, he does so in cooperation with opposition leader Yair Lapid and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli said on Tuesday.

“President Biden’s statements are coordinated with Lapid and Barak. Biden’s associates coordinate with them every time they want to ignite a protest in Israel,” the Likud lawmaker told Haredi radio station Kol Barama.

Israeli lawmaker Amichai Chikli attends a Knesset House Committee discussion following a request from Yamina to oust him from the party, April 25, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Biden has drawn criticism from members of the ruling coalition following recent remarks that the Israeli government is “extreme.” 

The president sharply criticized Netanyahu’s coalition in a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria on July 7, calling it “one of the most extreme” Israeli governments he’s ever seen.

Chikli called Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid Party and the previous prime minister, “one of the most harmful politicians who have arisen in the history of the State of Israel; an extreme and childish person.”

Lapid and Barak are leading figures in the protest movement against the government’s judicial reform initiative. Lapid recently called for a general strike by the Histadrut labor federation of the sort that on March 27 strangled Israel’s economic activity.

It was reported in late June that Israeli police were investigating recent calls for civil unrest by Barak and former Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan to oppose the reform initiative.

Barak urged demonstrators to revolt in a speech in Haifa last month. He told protesters to engage in “civil disobedience, or in more precise language, nonviolent civil disobedience.”

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak speaks at the Haaretz Democracy Conference in Jaffa, Nov. 9, 2021. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Chikli also dismissed attempts by President Isaac Herzog to reconvene negotiating teams at his official residence in Jerusalem to work out a compromise agreement on judicial reform, saying that it was “not necessary.”

“The bills being legislated at the moment are not far-reaching and there is no need for it. The wording of the president’s speech two days ago was too dramatic for the issues at hand,” Chikli said

The Likud minister called the current demonstrations “the most elitist protest in Israel’s history.

“What we need is for rioters to pay a price for their actions. Someone who chooses to block a road should be put on trial just like protesters were during the [2005] Disengagement from Gaza,” Chikli said.

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