Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed his fury on President Biden in his final speech in front of the Knesset Sunday, calling out the Biden administration over their effort to revive the Iran nuclear deal.
“The new U.S administration requested that I save our disagreements on the Iran nuclear deal for behind closed doors, and not share them publicly,” Netanyahu said. “I told them I won’t act that way.”
“In the face of the threat of extermination, we were helpless. Our voice was not heard among the nations. We had neither a state nor an army. But today we do have a voice. We do have a state, and we do have defensive power. And therefore, I told the U.S Defense Secretary Austin who visited here a few weeks ago, a quote, ‘As the prime minister of Israel, I shall do everything to oppose an agreement that will lead to the nuclear armament of Iran,'” Netanyahu said.
The outgoing prime minister also blasted Biden’s decision to reopen the U.S consulate in East Jerusalem that serves Palestinians. Following the 11-day conflict last month, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah announced plans to reopen the U.S consulate in Jerusalem that had historically served as the de facto representative to the Palestinians, as well as the U.S plans to send tens of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians to assist in the reconstruction of Gaza.
One of the longest-serving Israeli leaders, Netanyahu was ousted Sunday as prime minister on Sunday after the Knesset, Israel’s parliament voted to form a new government. In a closely tight vote of 60-59, Netanyahu former defense minister Naftali Bennett was sworn in immediately as the new prime minister, with Lapid set to replace him in 2023, in a rotation agreement if the government lasts.
Following the recent March 23 election, the outgoing Prime Minister had failed to form a government. Sunday’s vote ended a tumultuous two-year cycle of political paralysis in which the country held four deadlocked elections.
Serving as prime minister since 2009, Netanyahu failed to block a power-sharing alliance between his two main opponents — centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid and now prime minister-designate Bennett. The new government represents a broad political spectrum, including for the first time the Islamist United Arab List, which represents the historically disenfranchised Arab minority.
Speaking for over half an hour, Netanyahu also slammed Bennett, who was once his ally, as a political lightweight who does not have the talent to handle the job, and asserting the new coalition cannot counter the existential threat posed by Iran.
“If I have to choose between tension between us and abolishing an existential threat to Israel, then abolishing the growing threat with an agreement or without an agreement,” Netanyahu said. “Unfortunately for me, Bennet. He doesn’t have the international standing. He doesn’t have the credibility. He doesn’t have the ability. He doesn’t have a government. He doesn’t have the ability to put up genuine opposition. And from all the differences, of which there are many, between us and the incoming government, this is the most important and fateful difference for the future of the state of Israel.”
“An Israeli prime minister must be able to say no to the president of the United States on matters that endanger our existence, and to back this up with massive work in congress, in the senate, and in public opinion, into the greatest democracy, which is the United States,” Netanyahu added.
Netanyahu noted that Iran is “celebrating” his loss because “they understand that starting today there will be a weak and unstable government that will align with the dictates of the international community.”
“Even in Iran they understand this — it’s no surprise that they are celebrating today,” he said. “They are celebrating because they understand that starting today there will be a weak and unstable government that will align with the dictates of the international community. This government does not want and is not capable of opposing the United States.”
Biden became the first world leader to quickly congratulate Bennett, issuing a statement addressing the incoming Prime Minister and other members of Bennett’s incoming cabinet.
“Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security,” Biden said.
Bennett tweeted his thanks to President Biden, writing: “I look forward to working with you to strengthen the ties between our two nations.”
In a similarly worded statement, Blinken said the United States remains “unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security.”
“We look forward to strengthening all aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership and working together for a more secure and prosperous future.”