Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly ordered high-ranking officials and ministers of his coalition government to avoid meeting with US officials in Washington until he receives an invitation to meet with President Joe Biden.
According to an anonymous source who spoke with Israel’s Channel 12, Netanyahu told members of his cabinet, “As long as I don’t visit there [US], nobody does.”
The report further added that Netanyahu has been angry over the fact that since assuming the role of prime minister, he has not been invited to Washington on behalf of the US president. Reports have indicated that initial talks regarding an invitation for the Israeli prime minister to the US haven’t even been discussed.
According to a Reuters review of official visits dating back to the 1970’s, most new Israeli leaders visited the US or met the president by this point in their premierships – and only two out of 13 previous prime ministers heading a new government waited longer.
Over the past few months, several US officials and US-based Jewish groups have criticized Israel’s new far-right government for its brutal suppression of Palestinians and increased settlement expansion into Palestinian territories. Both have heavily denounced Netanyahu’s controversial judicial overhaul, which seeks to limit the power of Israel’s judiciary and Israel’s ‘democracy.’
Earlier this month, the US State Department considered denying Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich a visa ahead of his expected visit to the US for encouraging Tel Aviv to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara. However, last Friday the US administration granted Smotrich a visa, neglecting domestic and international condemnations.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price also previously condemned Smotrich’s remarks on the recent rampage by Israeli settlers on the Palestinian town of Huwara, calling them “irresponsible, disgusting, and repugnant.”
Left-wing Zionist organizations have typically supported a more gradual expropriation of Palestinian lands, seeing this as a more effective strategy for realizing the Zionist project, as opposed to the abrupt and violent mass displacement of Palestinians advocated by right-wing and revisionist Zionist groups, as represented by Netanyahu and Smotrich.