ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Biden admin mulling denying Smotrich a visa after call to ‘wipe out’ Huwara, but unlikely to take step

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at a conference in Jerusalem, February 21, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at a conference in Jerusalem, February 21, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Biden administration has held discussions on whether or not to grant Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich a visa to enter the US after he called to “wipe out” a Palestinian town, an official familiar with the matter tells The Times of Israel.

The official confirms a Channel 12 news report revealing the discussions, and insists that no decision has been made.

A second source familiar with the matter tells The Times of Israel that the US is unlikely to actually bar Smotrich’s entry. The source notes that the White House was unlikely to have announced on Thursday that US government officials would not meet with Smotrich when he’s in town later this month had the administration intended to take the step of refusing him a visa.

Earlier this week, Smotrich called to “wipe out” the West Bank town of Huwara after settlers rampaged there following a terror attack.

Channel 12 says the US is weighing Smotrich’s entry in light of his remarks potentially constituting incitement to violence and the encouragement of war crimes.

The TV station quotes an American source saying it would be better if Smotrich announces that he’s canceling his March 12-14 trip.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday denounced Smotrich’s remarks. “These comments were irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting,” he said. “Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence.”

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