Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday during a visit to Washington said upcoming elections in both Israel and the US should not affect bilateral ties.
This comment came amid tensions over the rise of the Israeli far-right, where two pro-Israel Democrats in the US Congress have warned Jerusalem against allowing extremist MK Itamar Ben Gvir of the Religious Zionism faction to make further political gains after the upcoming election.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party, whose religious-right bloc relies on Ben Gvir’s party, said in response on Tuesday that he would not “bow his head” to pressure from the US.
In a meeting with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Herzog stressed that the Israel-US relationship needed to remain above national politics.
“My visit here during this politically sensitive time, both in Israel and in the United States, is intended to underscore that our alliance is above all politics,” Herzog said. “It transcends all governments and political disagreements. That’s how it’s always been and that’s how it shall always remain. I’m here in order to reaffirm that the close and deep friendship between us will continue, whatever the results of the elections in Israel or in the United States. Our bond is strong and unconditional.”
In a meeting with US Jewish leaders, Herzog delivered a similar message. “You have elections and midterms, we have elections in Israel next week. I think one thing should transcend both — the friendship and close bond between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and it is a value that we must all cherish and work for. May I also add we must respect each other’s democracies,” Herzog said while sitting next to Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog, his brother.
“There will be of course discussions about the outcome,” he said of elections. “First and foremost, the underlying rule should be ‘we honor and respect democracy.’”