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Netanyahu challenges new leader to stand up to Biden

Although Benjamin Netanyahu no longer is prime minister of Israel, he will keep a wary eye on the policies of the Biden administration.

Netanyahu’s term as prime minister ended Sunday after Israel’s parliament approved a new government formed by right-wing Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid. Netanyahu said Iran is celebrating his loss and questioned his successor’s mettle, suggesting he may not be able to stand up to the Biden administration when the going gets tough. Netanyahu said the administration asked him “not to discuss our disagreement on Iran publicly. But with all due respect, I can’t do that.”

Netanyahu’s fear of an American administration that coddles foes may be well-grounded. The Biden administration recently signed off on construction of a controversial oil pipeline across Europe that is set to bring Russia and Vladimir Putin hundreds of billions in revenue. This while Biden shut down the American Keystone pipeline project over “environmental” issues. Biden has also unilaterally resumed talks with Iran and dropped important sanctions put in place by the Trump administration which had used them to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons production efforts.

Those two actions have some asking if Biden can be trusted. Those may include Bennet, who was once Netanyahu’s ally and now rival.

In a speech, Bennett thanked Netanyahu’s work on behalf of Israel on the world front, including pushing back against the Obama-Biden era which often saw Israel treated as an oppressor rather than an ally.

“Thank you, Benjamin Netanyahu for many years of service and lots of achievements for Israel,” he said. “As prime minister you worked for many years with devotion and to our political power, defensive power.”

“The guiding compass is Israel’s security. Israel’s security is more important than what they will say about us in the world,” Bennett said, sounding much like his predecessor Netanyahu.

“Bennett’s public comments that he is willing to spar with the US, even before any disagreement has come to the surface, suggest that a major shift in the dynamic between the government of Israel and the Democratic administration in Washington is unlikely,” reported the Times of Israel.

Bennet went on to say, “if we have to choose — I hope it doesn’t happen — between friction with our great friend the United States and eliminating the existential threat, eliminating the existential threat” wins.

No doubt, Bennett, will still rely on the expertise of Netanyahu who has worked with five U.S. presidents.

Netanyahu now serves as leader of the opposition and cited how his governments have transformed Israel.

“Members of Knesset, our achievements from a marginal state to a rising power in the global arena,” he said. “This is our way, mine and my friends from the national block, my friends of the real right. And if it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way.”

Although Biden congratulated Bennett, differences between the two allies on the Iranian nuclear deal may test the new government.

“The renewal of the nuclear agreement with Iran is a mistake, a mistake that will give legitimacy again to one of the darkest and most violent regimes in the world,” Bennett said. “Israel will not let Iran arm itself with a nuclear weapon. Israel is not part of the deal and will continue to maintain full freedom of action.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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