Photo Credit: Flash 90
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yair Lapid.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid faced sharp criticism after claiming that that anti-Israel pressure in the US Congress by progressives was former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fault.

Due to opposition from a number of Democratic congressmen, $1 billion worth of US aid for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system was delayed. Funding for Israel’s missile defense system was removed from the government spending and debt ceiling hike bill, following a threat by a group of progressive members to block the legislation unless the aid to Israel was withdrawn.

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Lapid then asserted that “after years in which the previous government neglected the Congress and the Democratic Party, and caused considerable damage to Israel-US relations, we are today rebuilding a relationship of trust with the Congress.”

In response, the Likud party, led by Netanyahu, stated Wednesday that Lapid’s “false assertions” about Netanyahu and the Democrats “once again reveal his incredible ignorance.”

“It was Prime Minister Netanyahu who agreed with President [Barack] Obama on a 38-billion-dollar US security assistance plan for Israel. The highest ever in the History of US Israel relation,” the Likud stated.

Netanyahu “met with hundreds of Democratic Senators and Congressional representatives to enlist their support for Israel’s security and other vital national interests,” his party noted.

During Netanyahu’s tenure, Congress “never voted against any matter related to Israel, including under all Democratic Administrations. [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and Lapid’s failure is all the more apparent, in light of the fact that President [Joe] Biden is a loyal friend of Israel. If Bennett and Lapid had any of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s understanding of America and his ability to advance Israel’s interest there, this problem would not have arisen in the first place,” the Likud underscored.

The Likud charged that “to deflect attention from their failure and incompetence, Bennett and Lapid blame others. They have no one to blame but themselves.”

Israel Hayom senior correspondent Ariel Kahana wrote that “there is so much ignorance and shallowness in Yair Lapid’s announcement that it’s just frightening.”

He noted that Netanyahu “certainly did not neglect Congress. On the contrary, through Congress, he acted against Obama’s policies, and the culmination was of course in the 2015 speech against the nuclear deal.”

Furthermore, Netanyahu “did not neglect his relationship with the Democrats. He met every senator and every member of Congress who came here and made sure on every visit of his to the US to visit Congress and meet the representatives of both parties there”.

Finally, he pointed out that “Democratic Party extremists are hostile to Israel for their own reasons and as a result of processes that American politics are going through. With all due respect to ourselves, we are not the center of the world. If Lapid thinks that his attitude will cause Rashida Tlaib or Ilhan Omar to change their approach to Israel in some way, he simply does not understand anything.”

“It is sad and frightening that for political reasons, he allows himself to play with Israel’s most sensitive interests, and it is to be hoped that Prime Minister Bennett – as he has done in the past – will avoid recycling these lies,” wrote Kahana.

Steny Hoyer, Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives, announced on the Floor that the House will consider legislation this week to fully fund Iron Dome. The motion is expected to receive a broad majority.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.