US Issues Ultra-Rare Rebuke Of Israeli Top Minister: "Repugnant & Disgusting"
The Biden administration this week issued a very rare rebuke directed at close US ally Israel, which receives billions in foreign aid annually, following controversial remarks by far-right Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich.
State Department spokesman Ned Price called statements by Smotrich "irresponsible, repugnant and disgusting" in what was probably the most strongly worded condemnation directed at a top Israeli minister in recent history.
Smotrich earlier in the week called on Israelis to "wipe out" the Palestinian village of Hawara, a West Bank town which recently saw a wave of settler violence which left at least one Palestinian dead and injured over 100 others, amid a scene of torched homes and cars.
Price emphasized this week that the Biden administration condemns Smotrich’s comments and considers them as an "incitement to violence". He then said the US calls on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to publicly disavow Smotrich’s comments and to urge the opposite, for the sake of peace.
According to The Times of Israel:
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s call to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara were “irresponsible, repugnant and disgusting.”
“Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amounts to incitement to violence,” he says after being asked about the senior minister’s comments during a press briefing.
“We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments,” Price adds.
BREAKING: Israeli minister of finance Bezalel Smotrich: “The Palestinian village of Hawara should be wiped out of the earth. The Israeli government needs to do it and not private citizens” https://t.co/0yvEl6Q2We— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) March 1, 2023
The publication underscored that the rare US-Israeli sharp disagreement "came days after a terrorist shot dead two Israeli brothers who were driving through Huwara, which was followed by many settlers rampaging through the Nablus-area town in what led to the death of one Palestinian, some 300 injured — four of whom seriously — and dozens of vehicles and buildings torched."
All of this has threatened to fray US-Israel relations, as Al Monitor reports:
An unnamed National Security Council spokesperson told the American press on Thursday that no meetings were planned for next week between Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and any American officials, not even officials in the US Treasury department.
Smotrich is scheduled to arrive in Washington for the annual event of Israel Bonds organization, taking place on March 12-14.
The town of #Huwara today following the settlers attack #westbank pic.twitter.com/b3xofyp0kr— Oren Ziv (@OrenZiv_) February 27, 2023
Palestinian officials have condemned what they called a "pogrom" - and tit for tat revenge attacks have continued, with the situation continuing to be at boiling point, particularly in the Nablus Governate region of the Palestinian Authority West Bank.