Report: Senate Delegation Leader Says She Won’t Meet With Smotrich, Ben Gvir

By Hamodia Staff

YERUSHALAYIM – The leader of a Senate delegation that arrived in Israel on Tuesday has said that she does not want to meet with far-right ministers in the new government, Axios reported, citing Israeli and American sources.

A source close to Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) said “it was Sen. Rosen’s request to not meet with members of the two far-right parties,” referring to Religious Zionism  chairman and Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit leader and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

Officials in the Biden administration have expressed concerns about Smotrich and Gvir, but have hedged on the question of engaging with them directly. This appeared to be the first outright refusal to meet them, although even in this case, Sen. Rosen herself was not quoted.

The senators are expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏,  Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and other officials and lawmakers.

Smotrich’s office confirmed that he has not meeting scheduled with the senatorial delegation. A spokesman said he has been occupied with preparing the next annual state budget and only became aware of the delegation’s visit through media reports.

Ben Gvir’s office declined to say whether such a meeting would take place but did issue a statement claiming that the Axios reporter who broke the story was engaged in a politically motivated “campaign” against the national security minister.

“In the last few weeks when there were quite a few requests from senators, ambassadors, consuls and international officials to meet with the minister, [the reporter] again chose to campaign against Minister Ben Gvir,” the statement read. “The minister is busy with the affairs of the ministry but nevertheless hopes to make time for these important meetings with diplomats from all over the world in order to continue strengthening Israel’s position in the world.”

The delegation, which Rosen is leading with Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), consists of lawmakers who are part of the Abraham Accords Caucus — a group formed to support and expand the normalization agreements, brokered by the Trump administration, between Israel and several Arab countries.

Israel is the last stop on the delegation’s trip to the region, which also included visits to Morrocco, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Ted Budd (R-NC) are also part of the delegation.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!