The rising popularity of Otzma Yehudit chairperson MK Itamar Ben Gvir is prompting senior Biden Administration officials to express concern that the right-wing attorney may become a minister in Israel’s next government, according to a report published Thursday by the Hebrew-language edition of Israel Hayom.
But Jewish organizations in the United States are also concerned, according to the report.
“In American terms it is like the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ in the Israeli government,” a senior American Jewish leader told Israel Hayom. “It is an insurmountable thing. There will be no ability to defend it.”
A “tolerable compromise,” the unnamed Jewish leader said, would be a path in which Ben Gvir supports the government from the outside, or is part of the government coalition without being appointed a minister.
The news comes in light of the strong showing in the polls by former prime minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The administration is following the political developments with concern and is troubled by the possibility that the chairman of Otzma Yehudit will be appointed in a future government in Israel,” a Biden administration official told the news outlet.
“It is too early to comment on the matter, but if things come to a point where such a scenario is on the agenda, there is no doubt that the administration will clarify its position. For us, this will be a huge problem,” the source said.
“Anyone who has common sense understands the problem,” the official continued. “This is not someone we want to see as part of the government. [Benjamin] Netanyahu is very smart and experienced and understands the consequences of such a development. This has not been discussed with him yet because. . . we are at an early stage. But there is no doubt that he understands,” the source added.
In response, Otzma Yehudit said in a statement, “We understand the zeal of the Reform (Reform Jewish movement) in the United States to try to prevent the establishment of a right-wing government in Israel, but this won’t help them – we will establish a strong and stable right-wing government.”