The United States should not interfere in the makeup of a prospective Israeli government, the Religious Zionist Party said Thursday.
The party, led by Bezalel Smotrich, issued a statement saying it had “a lot of respect and appreciation for our ally the United States. The Biden administration should also respect Israeli democracy and not interfere in the establishment of an elected government.”
The statement came after reports emerged Wednesday night of the alleged contents of a meeting held earlier in the day between Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides.
Nides reportedly urged Netanyahu not to appoint Smotrich as minister
The two had a “frank conversation” about how to “articulate things where [they] disagree without causing a rift,” a source with knowledge of the meeting said.
Specific names of possible cabinet ministers were not discussed in the conversation, the source said.
However, Channel 12 reported that Nides implicitly cautioned Netanyahu against appointing Smotrich as the next defense minister.
"Appointing the defense minister should be handled with care and consideration, and in a way that takes into account the intimate relationship between Israel and the US."US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides
According to the report, Nides did not mention Smotrich by name, but said that “appointing the defense minister should be handled with care and consideration, and in a way that takes into account the intimate relationship between Israel and the US” Channel 12 reported.
The offices of both Netanyahu and Nides confirmed that the meeting took place but would not say what was discussed.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday said Smotrich should not be given the position, calling the idea “inconceivable” considering his lack of military experience.