Opposition lawmakers are accusing Benjamin Netanyahu of politicizing his relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump and placing Israel in a precarious position with a new Democrat administration.
Netanyahu was one of the last of Israeli and world leaders to congratulate Joe Biden after he claimed victory on Saturday night. The Israeli prime minister sent out two tweets on Sunday morning: one congratulating Biden and another thanking Trump for years of friendship and support.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said Netanyahu “abandoned relations between Israel and the Democratic party” during Trump’s term, banking on Trump’s continuation as president and enjoying all of the administration’s positive decisions.
Netanyahu fired back.
“I don’t stand for Republicans or Democrats. I stand only for the State of Israel, and that will continue with the next [American] government,” Netanyahu said. “That is how a prime minister of Israel must act, not bowing his head or [behaving] obsequiously, but not arrogantly. [He must act] as someone fighting for his people, his land and his country.”
“For 38 years I have been investing nonstop efforts into strengthening our relations with the U.S. with both parties, with presidents, members of the House, the Senate, public opinion, with hundreds of interviews on television and radio for the Right and Left,” Netanyahu said. “He’s going to explain to me how to keep up the relations? That’s absurd.”
Netanyahu said he meets leaders of both parties both in Israel and when he goes to Washington including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He also met with Vice President-elect Harris when she visited Israel in 2017.
“I see a great importance in explaining Israel’s positions to both sides of the House,” he said. “But I don’t just explain Israel’s stances, I stand up for them.”
Netanyahu and former U.S. President Barack Obama had a cantankerous relationship which has been overshadowed by the tremendous strides taken on Israel’s behalf during Trump’s administration.