Skip to main content

Israel 'no longer a star' on US flag, says Ben Gvir

Israeli minister hits out at US president, who said Israeli governing coalition 'most extreme' Israeli government he has seen
Itamar Ben-Gvir attends a Knesset session to elect the new speaker of the assembly on 13 December 2022.
Itamar Ben-Gvir attends Knesset session to elect new speaker of assembly, on 13 December 2022 (AFP)

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has hit out at US President Joe Biden for his recent remarks calling Israel's current government the "most extreme" he's seen in the country's history, with Ben Gvir saying Israel is "no longer a star" on the American flag.

"President Biden needs to realise that we are no longer a star on the American flag," Ben Gvir said on Twitter, referring to the fact that the US flag contains 50 stars representing the 50 states that make up the country.

On Sunday, Biden said during an interview with CNN that the current far-right governing coalition is “one of the most extreme” governments in Israel that he has seen in his decades in politics.

“It's not all Israel now in the West Bank - all Israel’s problem - but they are a part of the problem, and particularly those individuals in the cabinet who say, ‘We can settle anywhere we want. [The Palestinians] have no right to be here, etc’,” he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

The interview came days after Israel launched a military raid on the Palestinian city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, which killed 12 Palestinians and left scores wounded.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Last month there were at least 85 incidents of Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians, prompting security officials in Israel to warn that ongoing violence could lead to anarchy. Attacks have been ongoing.

The Jenin operation was condemned by civil society and rights groups, as well as the UN, which has refused to issue a retraction of its condemnation.

Israel is the US’s closest Middle East ally and the country receives around $3.8bn a year in military aid from Washington. The US has consistently vowed to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge in the region.

Israel has also enjoyed bipartisan support from US Congress for decades and has received fervent support from Washington at the United Nations.

Lack of US red lines

Analysts told Middle East Eye last week that the raid had shown the Biden administration's lack of red lines when it comes to Israel's actions in the occupied West Bank.

"The US clearly has no red lines when it comes to Israel's use of force," Marwa Maziad, an expert on US-Arab-Israeli relations at the University of Maryland, told MEE.

'No red lines': US response to West Bank assault underlines Israel's free hand
Read More »

Still, the US has stated clear concerns over the current far-right government in Israel, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden in March made a rare foray into Israeli domestic politics when he warned Netanyahu against going forward with a contentious plan to overhaul Israel's judiciary.

“I hope he walks away from it,” Biden said, adding that Netanyahu’s government “cannot continue down this road”.

Netanyahu has yet to receive an invitation to the White House, and Ben Gvir as well as Bezalel Smotrich - another far-right member of Israel's governing coalition who serves as finance minister - have so far been snubbed by the administration.

But Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East advisor, told MEE last week that if "Netanyahu said tomorrow the judicial overhaul is dead, the Biden administration would schedule a visit for him."

"The reason he isn't coming isn't attached specifically to the Palestinians."

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.