US President Joe Biden has accused political extremists in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of contributing to the rising tensions in the West Bank, saying they are part of the reason that a peace deal can’t be reached with the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu’s cabinet has “some of the most extreme members” to lead Israel’s government dating all the way back to Golda Meir’s administration in 1969, Biden said in a CNN interview aired on Sunday. He dodged a question on when he will invite Netanyahu for a White House visit, saying, “Bibi, I think, is trying to work through how he can work through his existing problems in terms of his coalition.”
Biden argued that some of Israel’s cabinet ministers have essentially said, “We can settle anywhere we want. They [the Palestinians] have no right to be here, etc.”
On the other side of the conflict, the Palestinian Authority “has lost its credibility” by creating a power vacuum into which “very extreme elements” have stepped.
“So it’s not all Israel now in the West Bank, all Israel’s problem, but they are part of the problem,” Biden said. He added, “I’m one of those who believes Israel’s ultimate security rests in a two-state solution.”
Netanyahu’s government has also been plagued by protests over his plan to overhaul Israel’s justice system. “I think we’re talking with them regularly, trying to tamp down what’s going on, and hopefully Bibi will continue to move toward moderation and changing the court,” Biden said.
Asked whether he would agree to provide Saudi Arabia with security guarantees and help with nuclear power development in exchange for Riyadh normalizing relations with Israel, Biden said, “We’re a long way from there. We’ve got a lot to talk about.” He said a deal may hinge on Saudi Arabia’s conduct and how much is asked of Washington. “Quite frankly, I don’t think they have much of a problem with Israel,” he said.
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