Ben Gvir says ‘deeply concerned’ by criticism from US Senator Menendez

Far right MK Itamar Ben Gvir addresses students at the Blich High School in Ramat Gan, September 6, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Far right MK Itamar Ben Gvir addresses students at the Blich High School in Ramat Gan, September 6, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir issues a statement responding to reports that Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, recently warned opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu that including extreme-right lawmakers in a potential future government would harm US-Israel relations.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that Senator Menendez has aimed incorrect and mistaken criticisms at the millions of Israelis who will soon vote in favor of a center-right government and me personally,” Ben Gvir says in an English language statement.

According to a recent Axios report, Menendez made the comments during a visit to Israel last month. Citing two unnamed American sources familiar with the meeting, the report said Menendez raised his concerns over Netanyahu’s cooperation with far-right parties, specifically mentioning Otzma Yehudit and its leader Ben Gvir.

Ben Gvir is No. 2 on the Religious Zionism, slate, which is projected to win between 12 and 14 seats in the November 1 election, positioning himself to receive a senior cabinet posting if  Netanyahu manages to form the kind of hard-right, religious coalition on which he has been campaigning.

“Everyone knows that the senator is a true friend of Israel and a champion of the US-Israel relationship, and more importantly, he is a man of integrity. Therefore, my sense is that he would not have made the statements reported had he been correctly informed of the positions I hold, as well as those I do not hold,” Ben Gvir says.

“The enemies of a strong Israel besmirch me; calling me and my party racist. But the truth is that we are anti-racist — we are fighting against the racist antisemitism fomenting within the boundaries of our homeland. We believe that Israel needs to uproot terror organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, just as the United States defeated al-Qaeda,” Ben Gvir says.

“Like millions of Americans, we believe that peace comes through strength and that Israel’s policies should be based upon the firm enforcement of our right to sovereignty and self-defense,” he says, adding that he would work to ease soldiers’ rules of engagement and reform the justice system.

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