Ben-Gvir prefers Trump over Biden, takes swing at Netanyahu

In his first interview for an international media outlet, Israeli Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has thrown shade at Biden and Netanyahu amid rising internal schism.

  • Israeli Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir speaking at an event in 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

As “Israel” and the US grapple over a ceasefire in Gaza, internal divisions within the Israeli entity are becoming more pronounced. A significant factor in this internal schism is the presence of Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli Police Minister infamous for his extremist views and frequent calls for violence against Palestinians and proclaiming “Jews to be the rightful owners” of the occupied Palestinian land.

In his first interview for an international media outlet since he joined the Israeli government in 2022, Ben-Gvir threw shade at US President Joe Biden and Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, informing Dov Leiber of The Wall Street Journal that “if Trump [were] in power, the US conduct would be completely different.”

The WSJ‘s concise profile, featuring supremacist statements by Ben-Gvir, highlighted the political influence gained by the once-marginalized politician during Netanyahu’s year-long campaign to reclaim a new status after his removal in 2021.

‘I will go far’

The Wall Street Journal’s article further established a link between Ben-Gvir’s opposition to a potential deal that would include a substantial release of Palestinian prisoners and the subsequent announcement by the Prime Minister on the same day that he would also reject such a deal.

“There are signs that Ben-Gvir has a growing influence in the debate,” the author wrote, “and Netanyahu increasingly needs him.”

Ben-Gvir stated that he is not in a hurry to undermine Netanyahu. He explained that the probable outcome would be the establishment of a center-left government, and he sees his “political career” as only beginning.

“God willing, I will go far,” Ben-Gvir was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The report also highlighted Ben-Gvir’s strong support for the re-occupation of Gaza, saying during the interview he plans to “encourage Gazans to voluntarily emigrate to places around the world,” once again playing the “voluntary immigration” card.

What the Journal highlighted is interpreted by some as a subtle signal for forced displacement, leading to what an Israeli official, as quoted in the article, described as a “headache” for Netanyahu.

“When Ben-Gvir opens his mouth, he creates a backlash that makes it harder for us to fight the war and bring hostages home,” an opposition official said as quoted by the Journal. 

Lapid, Gantz bash Ben-Gvir for his remarks on Biden: ‘Harming war effort’

Opposition leader Yair Lapid and Minister Benny Gantz rushed to criticize Ben-Gvir for his remarks about US President Joe Biden to The Wall Street Journal.

“The interview Ben Gvir gave to the Wall Street Journal is direct damage to Israel’s international standing, direct damage to the war effort, harms the security of Israel and mostly proves that he doesn’t understand anything in foreign diplomacy,” Lapid said in a post on X.

“But Netanyahu has no control over the extremists in his government,” he added, joining the current war of words between Israeli officials.

On his account, Gantz said in  a post on X that “disagreements are permissible, even with our biggest and most important ally, but it should come in the relevant forums and not in irresponsible comments in the media, which harm the strategic interests of the State of Israel, the security of the country and the war efforts at this time.”

Gantz went on to say that “the prime minister should call the national security minister to order, who instead of dealing with domestic security issues is causing enormous damage to the foreign relations of Israel.”

A flashback

Ben-Gvir, facing numerous indictments for his involvement in far-right political activities and convicted in 2007 of inciting racism, was known for displaying a photo of the late Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein, who perpetrated the killing of 29 Muslim worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, the center of al-Khalil, in the occupied West Bank. 

He is recognized for his association with the supporters of Meir Kahane, the extremist rabbi born in Brooklyn who advocated for the forced expulsion of millions of Palestinians. 

Recently, Ben-Gvir led a campaign to distribute assault rifles to Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, urging them to arm themselves against Palestinians.

Ben-Gvir oversees the police and plans to organize the newly armed settlers into “security squads” in each settlement. These squads will reportedly receive training from the police and operate under the local police force’s control.

Toward the end of October, Ben-Gvir shared photos of himself distributing assault rifles to settlers during a political event. These images raised concerns among officials in the Biden administration and within Congress.

This is occurring as “Israel” is currently engaged in a genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza, resulting in the killing of over 17,500 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, over the last 121 days.

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