After criticism, White House says Israel interferes in US politics more than the other way around

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress, Washington DC, March 3, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress, Washington DC, March 3, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/File)

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says Israel weighs into American politics more than the US weighs into Israeli politics, amid fury in Jerusalem over Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for early elections in Israel to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sullivan is asked during a press briefing whether the US could do more to speak directly to the Israeli people regarding its concerns over a mass IDF invasion of Rafah. He says it is ironic that the press is asking that question given Netanyahu’s recent appearance in American media, in which he has blasted Washington for interfering in Israeli politics.

“In fact, we don’t do nearly as much as they speak into ours,” Sullivan asserts without elaborating.

Netanyahu has long been criticized by Democrats over what they saw was his support for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, but more notably the 2015 speech that the Israeli premier organized in Congress behind then-president Barack Obama’s back in order to lobby lawmakers against the Iran nuclear deal that Obama was seeking to ink.

Sullivan appears to try and soften his criticism, saying it was not “a constructive answer to your question, just an observation.”

He reveals that Netanyahu on the call raised his concern regarding “a variety of things that have come out in the American press,” but avoids detailing them further.

“From President Biden’s perspective, this is not a question of politics, it’s not a question of public statements, it’s a question of policy and strategy. That’s what he’s focused on, that’s what he was focused on in the call,” Sullivan says.

Biden is not focused on what’s popular or on shaping public opinion, but rather in advancing his broader regional initiative to see a two-state solution with Israel enjoying normalized relations with all of its Arab neighbors, Sullivan maintains.

“While it is true that many voices in Israel can’t see that today, that is not going to alter the president’s view… that that is what is not just in the US national security interest, but it’s really the only solution to secure Israel’s future as a democratic, Jewish state that is secure and at peace with its neighbors, including its most immediate neighbors — the Palestinian people.”

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