Presidents Biden and Herzog
Presidents Biden and HerzogKobi Gideon/GPO

Israeli President Isaac Herzog made a point during his recent visit to Washington D.C. to address fears in the Biden administration that the upcoming Israeli elections would lead to an extremist right-wing government. Axios reports that President Herzog told the administration that it was too early to conclude what kind of government would be voted in, and not to jump to conclusions yet.

Of particular concern to the US administration is the Religious Zionism party, which is expected to win approximately thirteen seats and to be a significant part of any right-wing government opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu would try to establish. MK Bezalel Smotrich, the party leader, is known for being outspoken against Israel's Arab population; MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, the second person on the party list, was convicted of supporting terrorist organizations and inciting racism in 2007.

Israeli and U.S. officials said both Secretary of State Tony Blinken and White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan in their meetings with Herzog this week raised the administration's concerns about the potential inclusion of extreme right-wing politicians in a future Israeli government.

The officials said that they discussed several possible scenarios with President Herzog, albeit without specifying which parties were involved. The officials stressed that the United States continues to fully support Israel's democratic process.

Journalist Barak Ravid reports that President Herzog called for patience before judging the new government, saying that there can be significant differences between exit polls on election day and what government is eventually sworn in. President Herzog urged U.S. officials to let the democratic process take its course, and not to judge solely by the rhetoric of party leaders before the elections.

"Every country has problems in its political system. You experience this here in the U.S. too," Herzog is reported to have commented.

Neither the U.S. State Department nor President Herzog's office had any comment. The officials commented that elections were not discussed when President Herzog met with U.S. President Joe Biden.