PM Benjaimn Netanyahu
PM Benjaimn NetanyahuKobi Gideon / GPO

A senior Biden administration official said Israeli’s prime minister made a “gross miscalculation” in his handling of the judicial reform plan, in particular with regards to anxieties in the White House regarding the implications of the overhaul.

Speaking with the left-leaning Forward in an interview published Wednesday morning, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer for their failure to anticipate the Biden administration’s cold reception to the judicial reform.

The two made a “gross miscalculation” in gauging the White House’s reaction, the official said.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden openly criticized the Israeli government, saying it “cannot continue” on its present trajectory.

“Like many strong supporters of Israel, I'm very concerned. I'm concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road. I've sort of made that clear,” Biden said, adding that he has no plans to invite Netanyahu to the White House – despite the tradition of meeting with newly-elected Israeli premiers.

Netanyahu responded by noting his long friendship with Biden, the strength of the US-Israel relationship, and Israel’s rights as a sovereign nation.

“I have known President Biden for over 40 years, and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel. The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us.”

“Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends,” Netanyahu added.

Following the spat, the senior Biden administration official said it was clear that the Israeli government had erred in its judgment, chilling relations with the White House at a particularly crucial time for Jerusalem.

“There’s no way Jerusalem wanted to be where they are today. As the president indicated, what happens next is up to Ron and Bibi.”

The official also took aim at Netanyahu’s right-wing allies, saying they “can try to smear the Biden administration however they’d like,” but “it’s not helpful.”

“There’s no need for Bibi to cut the baby in half.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) fired back Wednesday morning, at Biden over his comments, criticizing the president’s statement during an interview with Galei Tzahal.

“We respect the democratic system there [in the US], but… they need to understand that Israel is an independent country and not just another star on the American flag.”

“It needs to be clear to countries around the world, the people here had an election and expressed their will.”