Middle East Monitor / July 11, 2023
Israelis have the right to “defend” themselves and “build out country”, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said in response to US President Joe Biden saying the coalition in Tel Aviv includes “the most extreme members.”
“He has the right to criticize, and we have the right to continue working to achieve the goals of Israeli citizens, defend ourselves and build our country,” Smotrich said.
According to Ynet news, Smotrich added: “I respect the president [Biden]. Cooperation and relations between the two countries are stronger than ever. It is OK to have different views.”
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Biden confirmed that the US still believes a two-state solution was the correct path forward in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
He criticized the views of some members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet on illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, considering them part of the problem.
Last month, the Israeli government decided to give Smotrich all control over the approval of settlement expansion projects in the occupied West Bank.
Estimates indicate that about 700,000 Jewish settlers are living in 164 Jewish settlements and 116 outposts in the occupied West Bank.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements and outposts in the occupied territories are illegal.