Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, warned Benjamin Netanyahu about forming a government with Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir.
A senior official disclosed on Tuesday that the opposition leader had been warned against including the two far-right lawmakers in a coalition after the outcome of the elections next week.
According to the official, the message had been passed along last month during a meeting when bin Zayed had visited Israel.
The warning said that if Netanyahu’s government comprised of such extremist lawmakers, it could put the bilateral ties with the UAE at risk, along with the Abraham Accords.
It was the Abraham Accords that had established ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel two years ago, which had been negotiated by former US President Donald Trump’s administration.
The official stated that the Likud leader had reassured the top Emirati official that he was dealing with the matter, but had not elaborated anymore.
It was also said that the meeting between the two had been a warm one, despite the warning. It should be noted that this is not the first Israel ally to have issued such a warning.
More progressive circles have also expressed their concerns about Netanyahu partnering with the Religious Zionism party of Ben Gvir and Smotrich.
The criticism was not taken well by Netanyahu, as he had been fuming last month when US Democratic Senator Robert Menendez had expressed the same concerns.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu said that he wouldn’t bow down to US lawmakers who had warned him about Ben Gvir.
He also asserted that should the Likud party emerge victorious in the next elections, he would make the far-right lawmaker part of his cabinet.
Before the last elections in Israel, a merger deal had been negotiated by the Likud leader, which ensured that the extremist Otzma Yehudit party of Ben Gvir would enter the Knesset.
He had done so in order to boost his chances of returning to power and a similar deal had been encouraged ahead of the elections scheduled next week.
Ben Gvir and Smotrich
The Religious Zionism party is expected to win between 12 and 14 seats in the elections and the No.2 position on the party’s slate belongs to far-right MK Ben Gvir.
He has positioned himself to receive a senior position in the cabinet, should Netanyahu succeed in forming a coalition after the November 1st elections.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Ben Gvir, given that he was convinced on terror charges, as well as incitement to racism.
Before he made his entry into politics in the previous year, it had been Smotrich who had been considered the most extremist lawmaker in Israel.
He has been outspoken against gays and called himself a homophone, but had later apologized for some of his comments on the matter.
He has also made remarks against Palestinians and Arab Israelis and has been quite vocal against the Arab MKs who were part of the Knesset.