A bi-partisan delegation of United States senators – who arrived on a visit to Israel Tuesday – said it will not meet with Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir or Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Axios reported Tuesday.
Ben Gvir leads Israel’s far-right party Jewish Power and Smotrich leads the Religious Zionism Party.
The delegation leader, Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen, said, prior to the group’s arrival, that the delegation did not want any members of these two parties to attend its meetings, “especially those in the Knesset,” according to Israeli officials.
“It was Sen. Rosen’s request to not meet with members of the two far-right parties,” a source close to Rosen told Axios.
During their visit, the senators are expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and other Israeli officials and lawmakers.
The delegation consists of senators who are part of the Abraham Accords Caucus, which was formed to support the normalization agreements between Israel and a number of Arab countries, starting in 2020. The delegation has been on a tour of the region, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Israel is the last stop on the tour before the delegation returns to the United States.
The senators’ refusal to meet with Ben Gvir is one sign that his appointment to the role of national security minister could prove to be “a huge embarrassment,” as Tel Aviv University professor Dr. Emmanuel Navon warned. Rosen is considered one of the most pro-Israel Democratic senators and her reaction could spell more boycotts of the controversial ministers in the future.
“And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:24
Prior to Israel’s November elections, another bipartisan delegation from the U.S. Senate, led by Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, warned Netanyahu that relations with the U.S. could be harmed by including far-right parties in the government.
Menendez, who is the chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the “most outspoken Democratic supporters of Israel in the Senate,” according to Axios, told Netanyahu that he had “serious concerns” about Jewish Power leader Ben Gvir, whom he referred to as “extremist and polarizing.”
“People who were in the room saw how pissed off Bibi got” with Menendez’ comments, one source said at the time.
“The senator told Netanyahu he needed to realize the composition of such a coalition could seriously erode bipartisan support in Washington, which has been a pillar of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Israel,” the source said.
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