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In a snub, US does not invite Israel’s Ben-Gvir, Smotrich to July 4 reception

The Biden administration has made its preferences clear by excluding far-right Israeli ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich from its Independence Day reception in Jerusalem.
Israelis stand next to a poster with the portraits of Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich during a protest against the government's controversial justice reform bill in Tel Aviv on March 4, 2023. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The US Embassy in Israel declined to invite Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to the US Independence Day reception on July 3 in another snub from the Biden administration. Smotrich and Ben-Gvir have both made hateful remarks against the Palestinians since they came to office in December.

Haaretz reported on Monday that both ministers were left out despite their important portfolios. The embassy also invited no ministers or regular Knesset members from Ben-Gvir’s far-right Jewish Power party, Smotrich’s far-right Religious Zionism party or the Noam Knesset faction headed by Avi Maoz.

Several other ministers such as Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat were invited to the reception, which is traditionally considered the most prestigious diplomatic event of the year. The embassy also invited several Knesset members. Among the personalities invited were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, opposition leader Yair Lapid, head of the National Camp Benny Gantz, Labor head Merav Michaeli and Israel Beitenu's Avigdor Liberman. 

A US official told Haaretz, “The guest list for the embassy’s 2023 Independence Day event includes people with whom the embassy has a close working relationship. Security concerns preclude us from publicly sharing the guest list for this event or any logistical details.”

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