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Likud minister claims opposition and White House coordinating anti-government criticism

Chikli told US ambassador to Israel to 'mind his own business' in February, after he urged the Israeli government to 'pump the brakes' on judicial overhaul plans

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli at the Knesset plenum hall in Jerusalem, June 26, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli accused the U.S. Biden administration on Tuesday of coordinating efforts to criticize the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul plans with Israeli opposition leaders.

“Every time they [overhaul opponents] want to fan the flames, all of a sudden there’s a comment from the direction of the [U.S.] president. I think these comments are prompted and timed by Lapid and Barak and their people, who are friends with these people [in the Biden administration],” Chikli said.

“There is a certain amount of coordination between Biden’s people and Lapid and Ehud Barak; there is a certain amount of synchronization,” the minister added, specifically naming opposition leader Yair Lapid and Barak, former Israeli prime minister from 1999-2001.

It is not the first time that Chikli – a new member in Netanyahu's Likud party following his rebellion from former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's Yamina party – has criticized the Biden administration.

In February, the diaspora minister told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides to “mind his own business” after Washington’s envoy urged Netanyahu's government to “pump the brakes” on the judicial overhaul plans.

In a recent CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, U.S. President Joe Biden said the current Netanyahu government is “one of the most extreme cabinets I've seen and I go back to Golda Meir.”

While Biden did not mention specific Israeli ministers, he was likely referring to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, two controversial far-right politicians who responded to Biden's remarks.

Nides, who is soon leaving his ambassador post, echoed Biden’s criticism when he claimed Israel was "going off the rails in a recent Wall Street Journal interview.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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