George W. Bush’s ambassador to Israel and a former State Department negotiator call on Biden administration to chill relations with Israel over Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, limit military aid.
By World Israel News Staff
Two prominent former U.S. officials who have worked on American-mediated final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are calling on the Biden administration to take an aggressive line against the incoming Netanyahu government.
In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post Tuesday, Daniel Kurtzer, American Ambassador to Israel during the George W. Bush administration, and Middle East analyst and former State Department negotiator Aaron David Miller urged President Joe Biden to exert heavy pressure on the new Israeli government not to alter the status quo in Judea and Samaria or the Temple Mount.
The U.S. “specifically should warn against efforts to change the status of the West Bank and the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount, to ‘legalize’ settlement outposts, and to build infrastructure for settlers that is designed to foreclose the possibility of a two-state solution,” the two wrote.
Miller and Kurtzer also implored the White House to issue a clear warning to Israel regarding Religious Zionism party chief Bezalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir, who are expected to be appointed as finance minister and public security minister respectively in the new government.
“Biden should also make it clear to Israel that his administration will have no dealings with Ben Gvir, Smotrich or their ministries if they continue to espouse racist policies and actions.”
Furthermore, the two argue that the White House should warn Israel that the U.S. will limit its military assistance and weapons sales to the Jewish state.
“Israel should be told that, while the United States will continue to support its ally’s legitimate security requirements, it will not provide offensive weapons or other assistance for malign Israeli actions in Jerusalem or the occupied territories.”
In addition, Miller and Kurtzer wrote that the U.S. should curtail its support for Israel in international forums such as the United Nations Security Council – where the U.S. has traditionally employed its veto power to bar passage of anti-Israel resolutions – and the International Court of Justice.
Prior to Israel’s Knesset election earlier this month, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu was pressured by Democratic lawmakers, including New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, not to form a government with MKs Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, warning an alliance with the two could jeopardize U.S.-Israel relations.
According to Axios, quoting sources, Menendez told Netanyahu he has “serious concerns” over a possible partnership with “extremist and polarizing individuals like Ben-Gvir.”
Last Friday, Netanyahu’s Likud party signed a coalition agreement with Ben-Gvir ensuring the Otzma Yehudit chairman’s appointment as National Security Minister – an expansion of the office of Public Security Minister.
Smotrich’s Religious Zionist Party is expected to sign an agreement with the Likud Wednesday, following a breakthrough during marathon talks late Tuesday night.
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