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Israel ‘unaware’ of any US decision to re-evaluate special bond

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman had claimed that Netanyahu is being "led around by the nose" by "extreme" Cabinet members," endangering U.S.-Israel ties.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.

After New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman claimed that a reassessment by the United States of ties with the Jewish state is “inevitable” due to alleged “radical behavior” by the Israeli government, an Israeli official on Wednesday said it was “unaware” of any such decision.

The unnamed official reportedly told The Jerusalem Post that many U.S. administrations have announced “re-evaluations” of relations with Israel in a number of different scenarios.

“Despite these periodic ‘reevaluations’ and disagreements over the years, relations between Israel and the U.S. have tightened for decades and reached an all-time high of security cooperation under the leadership of Netanyahu,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition denounced Friedman’s article.

“Thomas Friedman is one of the most obsessed anti-Netanyahu journalists in the world,” Likud lawmaker Dan Illouz noted on Twitter. “He has been claiming for decades that Netanyahu is destroying [our] relations with the United States, even though Netanyahu’s special relation with the United States brought the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and [gave us] the Abraham Accords.”

He concluded: “Even if there is currently tension between Washington and Jerusalem, the alliance between the countries is very strong and cannot be questioned.”

Likud Knesset member Tali Gottlieb told Ynet news, “Speculations and threats do not impress me.” Netanyahu, she added, “is a phenomenal statesman, he takes all the relevant issues into consideration. The nations of the world only understand us when we are at our strength. The U.S. knows that it also needs us, as is clear to anyone who understands the games between great powers.”

In his New York Times column, Friedman claimed that Netanyahu was being “led around by the nose” by “extreme” Cabinet members, such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, risking a breakdown in Israel-U.S. ties and a civil war in Israel, Israel Hayom reported.

He also claimed that the judicial reform undermined ties with the United States.

“Such a huge change to Israel’s widely respected judicial system, which has guided the emergence of a remarkable start-up economy, is something that should be done only after study by nonpartisan experts and with a broad national consensus,” Friedman wrote. “That is how real democracies do these things, but there has been none of that in Netanyahu’s case. It underscores that this whole farce has nothing to do with judicial ‘reform’ and everything to do with a naked power grab by each segment of Netanyahu’s coalition.”

Friedman also accused the Netanyahu government of “occupying the West Bank” and opposing “the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

“Netanyahu’s steady destruction of this shared fiction is now posing a real problem for other U.S. and Israeli shared interests: It threatens the stability of Jordan, a vital U.S. and Israeli interest. It is driving the Arab states that joined with Israel in the Abraham Accords to take a step back. It is giving the Saudis real pause about moving ahead with normalization with such an unpredictable Israeli regime,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu, who came to power in December, has yet to receive an invitation to the White House. President Joe Biden has recently said that he was not planning to invite the Israeli prime minister any time soon.

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