J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami
J Street President Jeremy Ben-AmiJ Street

Liberal American Jewish leaders have expressed “deep concern” over the makeup of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s next coalition government, which is expected to be established next week.

Netanyahu moved closer to finalizing his new government, with an agreement inked between the Likud and the United Torah Judaism party Tuesday night. The Likud has now secured deals with all of its right-wing allies except Shas.

The prospect of the establishment of a narrow right-wing Israeli government within a matter of days has stirred anxiety among prominent liberal Jewish groups in the United States, prompting J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami to openly express fear regarding the incoming coalition.

““This is a very significant crossroads,” Ben-Ami to AP.

While J Street – an organization dedicated to promoting the two-state solution – has often found itself at odds with Jerusalem, this time Ben-Ami said the new government could lead to a serious rift with American Jews.

“The potential for specific actions that could be taken by this government, these are the moments when the relationship between the bulk of American Jews and the state of Israel begins to really fray. So I’m very afraid.”

Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, echoed Ben-Ami’s concerns, calling Netanyahu’s coalition allies “are among the most extreme voices in Israeli politics.”

“What will be the trajectory of a new Israeli government with such voices in such key leadership roles is of deep, deep concern.”

After the right-wing bloc won last month’s Knesset election, the Anti-Defamation League warned against the inclusion of Otzma Yehudit and the Religious Zionist Party in a new government.

“As an organization deeply committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, we believe that including these far-right individuals and parties in an Israeli government would run counter to Israel’s founding principles, and impact its standing, even among its strongest supporters.”

“Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich…both have a long history of engaging in racist, anti-Arab, homophobic and other hateful behavior.”

“In particular, we are concerned about several of Mr. Ben-Gvir's stated policy intentions, including to set up a government office to ‘encourage’ the emigration of Arab citizens of Israel. – whom his party refers to as ‘enemies of Israel’.”

Chief executive of the Jewish Democratic Council of America Hailey Soifer said she would withhold judgment on the new Netanyahu government until it takes office, but added that she understands concerns from liberal Jews given the views expressed by members of the incoming coalition.

“Many of those concerns are based on our own experience with an administration that didn’t share our values,” Soifer told AP.