The New York Times’ editorial board on Saturday published an op-ed warning against the new Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
“[T]he far-right government that will soon take power, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, marks a qualitative and alarming break with all the other governments in Israel’s 75-year history. While Mr. Netanyahu clearly has the support of the Israeli electorate, his coalition’s victory was narrow and cannot be seen as a broad mandate to make concessions to ultrareligious and ultranationalist parties that are putting the ideal of a democratic Jewish state in jeopardy,” it wrote.
The editorial says that the Times’ editorial board “has been a strong supporter of Israel and a two-state solution for many years” but also warns, “Netanyahu’s government, however, is a significant threat to the future of Israel — its direction, its security and even the idea of a Jewish homeland. For one, the government’s posture could make it militarily and politically impossible for a two-state solution to ever emerge.”
The op-ed calls on the Biden administration to act and “do everything it can to express its support for a society governed by equal rights and the rule of law in Israel, as it does in countries all over the world. That would be an act of friendship, consistent with the deep bond between the two nations.”
“Ministers in the new government are set to include figures such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted in Israel in 2007 for incitement to racism and supporting a Jewish terrorist organization. He will probably be minister of national security. Bezalel Smotrich, who has long supported outright annexation of the West Bank, is expected to be named the next finance minister, with additional authority over the administration of the West Bank. For the deputy in the prime minister’s office in charge of Jewish identity, Mr. Netanyahu is expected to name Avi Maoz, who once described himself as a ‘proud homophobe,’” the Times’ editorial states.
“These moves are troubling, and America’s leaders should say so. The Biden administration’s main response so far has been a cautious speech by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the liberal advocacy group J Street on Dec. 4, in which he declared that the United States would deal with Israeli policies, not individuals.”
“Moderating forces in Israeli politics and civil society are already planning energetic resistance to legislation that would curtail the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court or the rights of the Arab minority or the L.G.B.T.Q. community. They deserve support from the American public and from the Biden administration,” the editorial says.
The piece concludes by saying, “Anything that undermines Israel’s democratic ideals — whether outright annexation of Jewish settlements or legalization of illegal settlements and outposts — would undermine the possibility of a two-state solution. America’s support for Israel reflects our two countries’ respect for democratic ideals. President Biden and Mr. Netanyahu should do everything they can to reaffirm that commitment.”