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Is Netanyahu waiting for Trump as Israel's Ben-Gvir sabotages Biden?

Israel's Prime Minister stays mum, while National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir ruins the country's relations with its greatest ally, the United States.
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcome Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu during an arrival outside the West Wing of the White House on September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. The foreign affairs minister is in Washington to participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV — It was a well-executed commando operation against the enemy's rear guard. Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, shunned by the US administration for his extremist ultranationalist views, suggested in an extensive interview on Sunday that US President Joe Biden was aiding Hamas. 

“Instead of giving us his full backing, Biden is busy with giving humanitarian aid and fuel [to Gaza], which goes to Hamas,” Ben-Gvir said, giving his first interview to a foreign news outlet since taking office over a year ago. “If [former President Donald] Trump was in power, the US conduct would be completely different," Ben-Gvir told the Wall Street Journal.

Ben-Gvir's assault took place even as Biden was directing intense efforts to overcome congressional opposition to more than $14 billion in special military aid for Israel. Republicans, perhaps acting on behalf of Trump, are opposed to the package for various reasons, some to do with domestic policy and political issues. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in the region this week seeking "an enduring end" to the Israel-Hamas war that would see a pause in hostilities, freedom for Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and increased aid for the Gaza Strip. Cabinet hard-liners in Israel are vehemently opposed to the US proposals.

While Ben-Gvir has built his career and popular support on inflammatory and outlandish remarks and actions, his boss — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — shows no signs of reining him in. Rather than reprimanding or even firing him for insulting Israel’s greatest ally on whom the country relies heavily for its survival, Netanyahu seems to prefer his personal political survival. Without mentioning Ben-Gvir’s name, Netanyahu told his government ministers at their weekly Sunday meeting, "I don't need help managing relations with the United States." 

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