US approves diplomatic visa for Smotrich days before his trip to DC

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

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at a press conference in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at a press conference in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The US has approved a diplomatic visa for Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to enter the country on Sunday, less than two weeks after he called to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara, a spokesperson for the minister tells The Times of Israel.

Smotrich is scheduled to speak at the Israel Bonds conference in Washington on Sunday.

The Biden administration held discussions over whether to grant Smotrich after his Huwara comments, an official familiar told The Times of Israel last week, indicating that it would stop short of doing so and suffice with a statement by the White House that no US government officials would meet with the far-right minister while he’s in town.

Smotrich walked back the remark and apologized again yesterday, saying he did not intend for his words to be interpreted as a military command to indiscriminately eradicate the town and all its civilians.

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