MK Smotrich
MK SmotrichFlash 90

The Biden Administration is concerned that Benjamin Netanyahu will appoint Religious Zionism party chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich as Israel's next Defense Minister, journalist Barak Ravid reported for Axios.

Smotrich had been seeking the Finance Ministry, but has stated his willingness to allow the Shas party to be given that ministry if he receives the Defense Ministry in its place.

The US Administration is reportedly concerned about Smotrich's hardline positions on Judea and Samaria and how Israel should respond to terrorism, as well as his positions on LGBTQ comments.

Last week, two US officials said that the Biden Administration would be unlikely to work with Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir if he is made a minister in the Netanyahu government, even if he is given a position which works closely with the US such as the Public Security Ministry.

Ben-Gvir ran together with Smotrich's Religious Zionism party in last week's election, a fact which will likely negatively affect the administration's view of Smotrich.

The officials who spoke to Axios did not state that it was likely that the administration would boycott Smotrich as was said about Ben-Gvir. The Defense Minister works closely with the defense establishment in the US.