Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in the latest Israeli elections has elicited a weak response from the United States as policymakers struggle with the implications for foreign policy in the Middle East.
On Thursday, incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid granted the election to Netanyahu after it became clear that the former prime minister’s coalition would allow him to regain his seat as the country’s leader.
But Netanyahu’s victory comes as President Joe Biden sits in the White House, presenting a somewhat embarrassing meeting of US and Israeli political ideals and goals.
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Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was the first US politician to congratulate Netanyahu about his victory, tweeting that Israel had a “robust” turnout and that the people made the “clear choice” to re-elect Netanyahu.
And Cruz told Fox News Digital that Congress can and should take action to ensure Israel and the United States stay abreast of key issues, such as maritime borders and territorial integrity.
“The Israeli people made a clear choice for Benjamin Netanyahu to once again lead their country and form a government,” Cruz said. “Unfortunately, the Biden administration has spent the past two years lobbying and weakening our Israeli allies, including most recently ceding maritime territory to Hezbollah.”
“There is no doubt that now they will try to increase that pressure,” continued Cruz. “Congress can and will provide aggressive oversight to ensure this does not happen and to preserve the ties of US-Israel relations.”
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The statement was in stark contrast to those published by United States Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides and the White House, which echoed the same statement that they were “happy to see such strong turnout for the Knesset elections” but that it was “too early to speculate on the exact composition of the next ruling coalition until when all the votes are not counted. “
Nides later revealed that he had a phone call with Netanyahu in which Nides “congratulated him on his victory and told him that I look forward to working together to maintain the unbreakable bond.”
Meanwhile, the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban posted a photo of himself with Netanyahu’s new book, “Bibi: My Story”, and wrote: “What a great victory for Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel! Difficult times call for strong leaders. Welcome back!”
The new Italian Prime Minister also added the congratulations Giorgia Meloni who tweeted “Congratulations – Mazel Tov to @netanyahu for the electoral success. Ready to strengthen our friendship and our bilateral relations, to better face our common challenges”.
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Israel and Lebanon just last month agreed on a new agreement on their shared maritime border that would see nations share rights to underwater natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
Lapid called the deal a “historic achievement that will bolster Israel’s security, inject billions into the Israeli economy and ensure the stability of our northern border,” but Netanyahu vowed to “neutralize” the deal if his party takes over. the check in November.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday that the United States would support the deal, which has been working for several years to help broker, and urged all Israeli government officials to “continue to share the values of an open democratic society “.
“Since it was in the interest of both countries, it was in the deepest interest of the United States,” Price said of the agreement. “We try to see a more stable and more integrated region, and this maritime border – the agreement in this regard – helps to carry it forward”.
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The possible more far-right composition of the Israeli government – which would see party leader Otzma Yehudit Itamar Ben-Gvir reach a leading role – has already sparked concern among more left-wing administrations.
Two officials told Axios the Biden administration is “unlikely” to engage with Ben-Gvir, whom they labeled a “Jewish supremacist.” Ben-Gvir said he wanted to be minister of internal security, entrusting him with the post of police and policies around the holy places in Jerusalem.
“Due to the likely composition of the next Netanyahu government, some tough challenges to US national security will quickly arise,” Joel Rubin, former deputy secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, told Fox News Digital.
Rubin said Netanyahu’s work on the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel create four peace agreements with individual Middle Eastern nations, should have dealt with “immediate stress” with a “more right-wing” approach to the “Palestinian question.”
“These countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have already expressed concern about a more right-leaning Israel on the Palestinian issue, as well as concerns about its potential cabinet members who have used hostile language in the past. of the Arabs, “explained Rubin. “The Biden administration will be challenged to navigate this space, which will require close coordination with Netanyahu himself, personally, as he attempts to manage a government coalition that is challenging for Arab-Israeli relations.”
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“Failure to protect these budding relationships will increase the risk of conflict in the region, never a good result for the safety of anyone, including the United States,” he added.
Netanyahu in a recent interview with Fox News Digital said he believes Arab nations “lost their interest” in the Palestinian question “long ago”, which is what “facilitated the Abraham accords”.