Anger in Israel as Biden says Netanyahu will not get White House invite 'soon'

Anger in Israel as Biden says Netanyahu will not get White House invite 'soon'
Israeli far-right politicians are reportedly up in arms over an apparent refusal by President Biden to invite Netanyahu to the White House.
3 min read
29 March, 2023
Netanyahu's far-right government has been at loggerheads with the US over its judicial overhaul [Getty]

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies are reportedly furious as a result of a public rebuke from US President Joe Biden, following a series of controversial developments in the county.

The US president told reporters on Tuesday that despite a pause by Netanyahu on a planned judicial overhaul, the general direction of his government "cannot continue" and the PM would not be given an invite to the White House in the "near future".

Biden's delay in inviting the new PM to Washington has been a key political issue in Israel with many viewing it as a personal afront to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu sent out a series of tweets on Tuesday evening in response to Biden's comments, with relations between Israel's hard-right government and Washington at its lowest ebb in decades.

"I have known President Biden for over 40 years, and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel. The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us," he tweeted.

"My administration is committed to strengthening democracy by restoring the proper balance between the three branches of government, which we are striving to achieve via a broad consensus."

Netanyahu and his allies view US criticism of the planned judicial reforms - which experts say will end legislative checks and balances in Israel - and other criticisms as meddling in domestic affairs. 

"Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends," Netanyahu added on Twitter.

Far-right figures in the Netanyahu administration were even harsher in their criticism of Biden's comments and apparent "meddling".

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who reluctantly signed up to the pause on the judicial overhaul in exchange for the establishment of a National Guard under his watch, said Israel is "not another star on the American flag".

"We are a democracy and I expect the US president to understand that," he said, according to Haaretz.

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There are huge concerns about power over a "private, armed militia" being in the hands of Ben-Gvir, who has a history of incitement and racially charged comments and actions against Palestinians. 

Likud MK and Minister of Sports and Culture Miki Zohar accused Biden of falling for "fake news" on Israel.

Another Likud MK, Nissim Vaturi, even claimed that Israeli soldiers were killed in the 2014 assault on Gaza as a result of the US allegedly placing an embargo on some weapons to Israel.

"Israel will protect itself without the US if they will not support us," Vituri said.

However, Israeli opposition politicians warned that the actions of Netanyahu threaten the relationship with Israel's closest ally.

"President Biden says on his terms that Netanyahu is dangerous for Israel. Dangerous for democracy and dangerous for security," said Labor chair Merav Michaeli. 

"Every moment he's in office brings us closer to destruction. This is the time to [call for] elections and replacing this dangerous government."