The US administration could refuse to work with Itamar Ben Gvir – media

The US administration is likely to boycott far-right politician Itamar Ben Gvir if the latter is to join the future government, said an article published on the Axios news site on Wednesday.

Citing two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, the site said the administration would work with the expected future government of Benjamin Netanyahu, but may decide to refuse to deal directly with the leader of the extreme Otzma Yehudi faction. -right.

The site also reported that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned President Isaac Herzog during his visit to Washington last week that the United States may refuse to cooperate with ” specific politicians” – a likely reference to Ben Gvir.

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After winning fourteen seats in Tuesday’s poll, and with 93% of the ballots counted, the HaTzionout HaDatit-Otzma Yehudit alliance of Bezalel Smotrich and Ben Gvir is set to become an important player in Netanyahu’s future government.

In response to this announcement, the Otzma Yehudit faction accused the Israeli left of being involved in this decision taken by the Americans.

“The anti-democratic campaign waged by the Israeli left continues,” she said in a statement without clearly establishing how the left could be involved in the comments made by American officials. “We know very well who in Israel is trying to push the Americans to intervene in Israeli democracy and what interests are being defended here.”

Ben Gvir is a self-proclaimed follower of extremist rabbi and former MP Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was banned and declared a terrorist group in Israel and the United States in 1980. Like its spiritual leader, Ben Gvir has been condemned , in the past, for supporting a terrorist group even if he repeats that he has become more moderate in recent years and that he does not have the same convictions as the founder of Kach. Some believe he would rather be able to run than be disqualified like his friends Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein.

For his part, former US ambassador to the Jewish state, Martin Indyk, indicated on Wednesday that a future Netanyahu government could have a “difficult” relationship with the Biden administration.

Indyk served as ambassador from 1995 to 1997 and again in 2000 and 2001. He was also the American envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations during the presidency of Barack Obama, which ultimately did not lead to No result.

Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk speaks at the State Department during John Kerry’s announcement that he will lead Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington, July 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

“The Biden administration doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to its relationship with Netanyahu and if he brings these right-wing extremists into his government and into his cabinet, I think things are going to be tough,” he said. Indyk, comments that were broadcast on Channel 12.

Obama, Netanyahu and their advisers had quarreled regularly during the two men’s eight years together, both being in power – Obama seeking to set up diplomatic agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and between Iran and world powers, two initiatives that the former Israeli prime minister widely opposed. The ties between Biden and Netanyahu nonetheless remain warmer.

For his part, the United States Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, chose to salute the mobilization of the Israeli electorate – electoral participation (71.3%) was unprecedented since 2015 – while adding “that ‘it is premature to speculate on the exact composition of the next ruling coalition before the end of the vote count’.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the Israeli government on our mutual interests and values,” the Ambassador continued.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, left, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US Embassy in Israel)

In the last hours of the count, everything seemed to point to a resounding victory for opposition leader Netanyahu and his bloc made up of right-wing, far-right and religious parties, a result that would put an end to a political crisis which had led to the organization of five elections in less than four years.

Jacob Magid and Michael Bachner contributed to this article.

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The US administration could refuse to work with Itamar Ben Gvir – media