Bipartisan group of US senators said refusing to meet far-right MKs during Israel visit

Itamar Ben Gvir, left, and Bezalel Smotrich at the Knesset on November 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Itamar Ben Gvir, left, and Bezalel Smotrich at the Knesset on November 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A bipartisan delegation of US senators starting a visit to Israel today has informed the government that it isn’t interested in meeting representatives of the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties, the Walla news site reports.

The outlet cites two Israeli officials and an American source, adding that the delegation is part of the Senate lobby for promoting the Abraham Accords and is traveling to Israel as the last leg of a Middle East tour with stops in Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

The delegation is headed by Senator Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, and James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican. It includes four Democrats and three Republicans.

They are expected to meet tomorrow with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid and members of the Knesset’s Abraham Accords lobby.

Senator Rosen made the request not to meet ministers such as Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, according to a source in her office.

Senior Foreign Ministry sources are quoted as saying such a meeting will not happen.

Lapid responds to the report by tweeting: “It is time to accept the facts: With a government of racists and extremists, the US is no longer Israel’s closest ally.”

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