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Israel’s Netanyahu defends his government’s relations with US after Ben-Gvir’s criticism

February 4, 2024 at 4:31 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 28, 2023 [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he does not need help to manage relations with the United States, in an implicit criticism of his far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, Anadolu Agency reports.

“I don’t need help to know how to navigate our relations with the US and the international community, while standing firm on our national interests as a sovereign country fighting for its existence and future,” Netanyahu said during a Cabinet meeting as cited by Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

“We make our own decisions, even in those cases where there is no agreement with our American friends,” he added.

Ben-Gvir early Sunday attacked the administration of US President Joe Biden, accusing it of “harming the war effort” in the Gaza Strip.

“Instead of giving us his full backing, Biden is busy with giving humanitarian aid and fuel [to Gaza], which goes to Hamas,” Ben-Gvir told The Wall Street Journal. “If Trump were in power, the US conduct would be completely different.”

Ben-Gvir said Netanyahu “is at a crossroads,” and that he “has to choose in what direction he’ll go.”

The Israeli premier said his government appreciates the US support for Israel since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict on 7 October.

“This does not mean that we do not have differences of opinion, but until today we have managed to overcome them with determined and considered decisions,” Netanyahu added.

Israel has launched a deadly offensive on Gaza following an 7 October Hamas attack, killing at least 27,365 Palestinians and injuring 66,630 others. Nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

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