US administration officials are livid following Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s call to “wipe out” the Arab village of Huwara and plan to boycott him during his visit to the US next week, Channel 12 News reported on Friday.
A senior Israeli official quoted in the report said that Smotrich is considered "persona non grata" in Washington, DC. The official noted the administration was not enthusiastic about Smotrich even before the comments on Huwara and that has deepened since the incident.
"If Smotrich was 'persona non grata' before that statement, now after this debacle he is 'persona non grata' on steroids," added the same senior official, who added, "No American official will meet with Smotrich. After he said these things, the phones in the offices in Jerusalem did not stop ringing."
The US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, also expressed himself in an unprecedented manner regarding the Israeli minister, according to Channel 12 News.
"I am really angry with him. He is a fool," Nides reportedly said of Smotrich, adding, "He has a flight to Washington, and if I could, I would throw him off the plane."
The US Embassy in Israel would initially not comment on the report, but later denied Nides had made these comments.
Smotrich’s comments came during a financial conference hosted by The Marker business daily. He was asked why he had liked “liked” a tweet by Samaria Regional Council deputy mayor Davidi Ben Zion calling “to wipe out the village of Huwara today.”
Smotrich replied, "Because I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it."
"God forbid, the job shouldn’t be done by private citizens," he added, condemning the riots by Jews in Huwara. "We shouldn’t be dragged into anarchy in which civilians take the law into their own hands."
He later published a clarification in which he said, "Once again the media is taking a quote of mine and trying to create a distorted interpretation of it. If they had played my entire remarks, you would have heard that I was talking about how Huwara is a hostile village that has become a terrorist outpost from which terrorist operations are launched every day, of rock throwing and shooting against Jews, but it is forbidden in any way to take the law into one's own hands."
"I said that I support a disproportionate response by the IDF and the security forces to every act of terrorism. For every rock - the closing of shops at the scene, for every firebomb - the arrests and deportation of the families of the terrorists, for every nest of terror - a closure and the collection of a painful price until the terrorists and their supporters realize that the blood of our children is not cheap and that terrorism is not profitable. This is the way to deal with terrorism and, God forbid, to prevent the next victims," said Smotrich.
Despite the clarification, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price called Smotrich's comments "irresponsible, repugnant. and disgusting."
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)