Thursday, June 20, 2024

Washington ‘no longer our closest ally’: Ex-Israeli PM

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid says Tel Aviv’s relations with the US have deteriorated so much under the leadership of his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, adding that Washington is “no longer our closest ally".

Lapid made the comments on Monday at a faction meeting of his Yesh Atid opposition party, according to the Times of Israel. He argued that Netanyahu’s government is destroying the alliance with the US by trying to pass controversial judicial reforms.

“The Israeli government is leading us into this crisis, making the biggest and most dramatic changes to the regime in our history, without holding a single discussion – not even one – about the economic, security, social and political consequences of the move,” Lapid said.

In a Channel 12 news interview, he argued that the nation is being “torn in two.”

“The Americans say they have no shared values with this government. It affects every aspect of US-Israel relations – their attention and their willingness to leave their comfort zone for Israeli interests. They will not do it for the most extreme government in the country’s history,” Lapid added, describing relations with the US as being at a historic low.

US President Joe Biden stated in March that he was “very concerned” about Israel’s democracy amid months of protests over the proposed judicial overhaul.

“I’m concerned they get this straight,” he said at the time, adding, “They cannot continue down this road.”

Netanyahu responded by saying Israel is a sovereign country and makes decisions by the will of its people, “not based on pressures from abroad.” His national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said Biden “needs to understand that Israel is no longer a star on the US flag. We are a democracy, and I expect the US president to understand that.”

More recently, the Biden administration criticized West Jerusalem’s approval for a Jewish-only settlement in the occupied West Bank. Earlier this month, Biden blasted the Israeli government’s cabinet as “extreme” and “part of the problem” in the Palestinian conflict.

On Monday, however, Biden issued a long-delayed invitation for Netanyahu to visit the White House later this year. Netanyahu spent 12 years as Israeli prime minister before a coalition led by Lapid ousted him from power in June 2021. He returned to office after winning the December 2022 election, the fifth parliamentary vote in four years.

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