newsU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden rebukes ‘most extreme’ Netanyahu government

The U.S. president blamed "those in the Cabinet who say, ‘We can settle anywhere we want,’ ” for exacerbating tensions with the Palestinians.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport, July 13, 2022. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport, July 13, 2022. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.

U.S. President Joe Biden sharply criticized Prime Minister Benjamin 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.

Biden blamed Israel’s government for exacerbating tensions with the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, “particularly those individuals in the cabinet who say, ‘We can settle anywhere we want.’

“And I think we were talking with them regularly, trying to tamp down what’s going on and hopefully, Bibi will continue to move towards moderation and change,” Biden said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Biden deflected a question as to whether he would invite Netanyahu for a White House visit, saying only that Israeli President Isaac Herzog was coming soon.

Biden has been criticized for neglecting to invite Netanyahu. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman recently told JNS that Biden’s failure to do so was “despicable.”

The American president also appeared to indirectly pour cold water on the possibility of an Israel-Saudi normalization deal. Asked whether the U.S. would accede to Riyadh’s request to provide the Saudis with a defense treaty and civilian nuclear capacity, Biden said, “We’re a long way from there.

“Whether or not we would provide a means by which they can have civilian nuclear power, and/or be a guarantor of their security—I think that’s a little way off,” he said.

Riyadh has said an Israel-Saudi deal is contingent upon the U.S. providing security guarantees and helping to develop its civilian nuclear program, The Wall Street Journal reported in March.

Biden has criticized Israel’s government previously, crossing the line in the view of some critics when he weighed in on the county’s Israeli politics, expressing hope that Netanyahu “walks away from” his effort to reform the country’s judicial system.

In May, it was reported that the Biden administration even demanded that Israel shelve its judicial reform plans in exchange for American support for a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.

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