update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Israeli political leaders denounce Biden’s ‘extreme’ remarks

The U.S. president “needs to realize that we're not another star on the American flag,” says National Security Minister Ben-Gvir.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, March 9, 2010. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, March 9, 2010. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition slammed U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent remarks that the current government is “extreme.”

Biden 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.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a key figure in Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc in the Knesset, said in an interview with Channel 14 news on Sunday that the U.S. president “needs to realize that we’re not another star on the American flag.”

“In what way exactly am I extreme? In handing out weapons to the citizens of Israel so that they can defend themselves? That I give full backing to our soldiers and policemen? I invite Biden to tour Jerusalem and Hebron to see that our extremism is extremism with immense love for the State of Israel,” the Otzma Yehudit Party leader continued.

His fellow party member MK Almog Cohen claimed that Biden’s remarks reflect that he is uninformed about Israel.

“An extreme government? Extreme in what? I think it is not extreme, it is very open, it is very talkative. The right has never known how to govern. I would like more,” said Cohen.

“Do you think President Biden knew there was an attack yesterday?” he added, in an apparent reference to an attempted stabbing at the Ammunition Hill light rail station in northeastern Jerusalem on Sunday.

National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Israel Katz from Netanyahu’s Likud Party commented that the U.S. president “knows the rules of democracy,” citing Netanyahu’s decision to provide financial and security assistance to the Palestinian Authority, which was approved by the Security Cabinet on Sunday but was opposed by some members of his coalition.

“There are gaps in the government between the approach of the prime minister and the absolute majority and the minority. Decisions were made regarding the continuation of the existence of the Palestinian Authority, the prime minister led the adoption of these decisions. Biden knows the rules of democracy,” Katz said.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid also weighed in on Biden’s comments.

Speaking at a conference on Sunday evening in Rishon LeZion, the former prime minister said that Biden was right to say that the current government is the most extreme in Israel’s history.

Lapid also responded to Biden appearing to indirectly pour cold water on the possibility of an Israel-Saudi normalization deal.

“They (the current government) prefer [Justice Minister Yair] Levin and [Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chair Simcha] Rothman’s crazy revolution over historic normalization with Saudi Arabia. Instead of dealing with security and the economy and foreign relations, they are only busy trying to corrupt the country and dismantle our democracy.”

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