Netanyahu Rebukes Ben Gvir: No Need to Interfere in Relations With the U.S.

By Yoni Weiss

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting at Hakirya base in Tel Aviv. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

At the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting held Sunday in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu subtly addressed the remarks of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who criticized President Joe Biden in an interview in the Wall Street Journal.

“Israel is a sovereign state. We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the Biden administration since the outbreak of the war: support for replenishing arms, support for international institutions, sending forces to the field, and more. This does not mean we don’t have differences of opinion, but to date, we have managed to overcome them with decisive and thoughtful decisions,” he said.

In a subtle hint to Ben Gvir, Netanyahu added: “I would like to share something from my experience: There are those who say ‘yes’ to everything in places where ‘no’ is necessary. They receive applause from the international community but endanger our national security. And there are those who say ‘no’ to everything, receive applause at home, but also endanger vital interests. I ask you to consider something from my experience: wisdom is knowing how to navigate – to say ‘yes’ when possible and ‘no’ when necessary.

“I don’t need help to know how to navigate our relations with the United States and the international community while steadfastly standing for our national interests. Baruch Hashem, I’ve been doing this for many years.

“As a sovereign state fighting for its existence and future, we make our decisions independently, even in cases where there is no agreement with our American friends.

“I want to clarify our policy – the essential goal is first and foremost the neutralization of the Hamas. To achieve this goal, three things are required:

“Firstly, the elimination of the battalions of Hamas. To date, we have eliminated 17 out of 24 battalions. Most of the remaining battalions are in the southern strip and Rafah, and we will also deal with them.

“Secondly, clearing operations after the elimination of the battalions, as our forces are doing boldly in aggressive attacks in the northern and central parts of the strip.

“Thirdly, neutralizing the underground infrastructure, as our forces are doing systematically in Khan Yunis and throughout the Gaza Strip, and this takes more time.

“We will not end the war until we complete all its goals: neutralizing Hamas, bringing back all our captives, and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

The Prime Minister then discussed the hostage deal. “Efforts to release the remaining hostages continue all the time. As I emphasized in the Cabinet meeting – we will not agree to any deal, not at any cost. Many things that are reported in the media, such as relating to the release of terrorists, we simply do not agree to.

“In recent days, it has been revealed to the world that UNRWA is collaborating with Hamas, and some of its personnel even participated in the massacre and abduction on October 7. This only reinforces what we have known for a long time – UNRWA is not part of the solution; UNRWA is part of the problem. The time has come to begin the process of replacing UNRWA with bodies that are not involved in supporting terrorism.”

In his interview in the Journal, Ben Gvir suggested a plan to “encourage Gazans to voluntarily emigrate to places around the world” by offering cash incentives, which would be “the real humanitarian” option, based on his own discussions with Palestinians in Yehudah and Shomron and “intelligence material.”

He also expressed rare public criticism of a sitting U.S. president, who “instead of giving us his full backing, Biden is busy with giving humanitarian aid and fuel [to Gaza], which goes to Hamas.”

“If Trump was in power, the U.S. conduct would be completely different,” Ben Gvir said.

Minister Benny Gantz called Ben Gvir’s interview “a direct attack on Israel’s international status, a direct attack on the war effort, harmful to Israel’s security and above all proves that he understands nothing about foreign policy.”

Meanwhile, Shas leader MK Rabbi Aryeh Deri thanked President Biden and the American people for their support.

“Thank you, President of the United States Joe Biden. The people of Israel will forever remember you for standing with Israel during some of our toughest hours. You and America are kingdoms of kindness. Even among friends and allies, there are differences of opinion. You are willing and paying a personal and political price to help us, and for that, we will always be grateful. May Hashem protect you and America,” Deri posted on social media.

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