US-Israel Relation in Crisis as Tensions Boil Over
US-Israeli relations are in full crisis mode less than three months after Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. The U.S. summoned Israeli Ambassador Mike Herzog to Washington on Tuesday to protest an Israeli law passed earlier that day that repealed the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the northern occupied West Bank. The rare U.S. rebuke of one of its closest allies came after weeks of bubbling tensions between the two countries.
Biden administration officials knew a crisis with the Israeli government was going to happen at some point, but they tried to postpone it as much as possible. The administration had expressed concerns even before Netanyahu was sworn in, including over the ministerial posts the prime minister was set to give to certain far-right coalition partners. But at the time, U.S. officials say, the Biden administration wanted to avoid confrontation so it could directly work with Netanyahu on countering Iran and expanding the Abraham Accords.
Netanyahu also sought to reassure international concerns about his government, telling U.S. news outlets that he “will have his hands on the wheel” and not his far-right extremist coalition partners. Still, tensions began to bubble just weeks after the Israeli government was sworn in when the ruling coalition presented its plan to weaken the Supreme Court and other democratic institutions. U.S. officials, including President Biden, expressed concerns over what the plan would mean for Israel’s democracy.