Netanyahu throws shade on Biden after president says he’s ‘very concerned’ about Israel’s judicial reforms
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday pushed back at President Biden over his criticism of Israel’s proposed judicial overhaul that has ignited waves of protests.
Netanyahu said he has known Biden for more than 40 years and expressed appreciation for the president’s “longstanding commitment to Israel.”
“The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreement between us,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said he was committed to “strengthening democracy by restoring the proper balance between the three branches of government, which we are striving to achieve via a broad consensus.”
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“Israeli sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including the best of friends,” Netanyahu said.
The comments appeared to be aimed at President Biden, who earlier Tuesday told reporters he was “very concerned” about Israel’s planned judicial overhaul and said he hopes Netanyahu “walks away from” it.
“Like many strong supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned, and I’m concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road,” Biden said, following a speech in North Carolina. “Hopefully, the prime minister will act in a way that he can try to work out some genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen.”
The judicial reforms would, among other things, allow the ruling coalition to control the appointment of judges and give it the authority to strike down Supreme Court rulings it dislikes.
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Netanyahu’s conservative allies have said the bill is needed to rein in a system of judges who are unelected and overly interventionist in political issues. But opponents have likened the overhaul to a power grab that would erode a system of checks and balances and concentrate authority in the hands of the prime minister and his allies.
After weeks of mass protests that brought Israel’s largest cities to a standstill, Netanyahu delayed the plans on Monday, saying he wanted “to avoid a civil war” by making time to seek compromise with political opponents.
The announcement appeared to calm some of the tensions that have fueled three tumultuous months of unrest. But it failed to address the underlying issues that have polarized the nation, and the anti-government protest movement vowed to intensify its efforts.
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Netanyahu has vowed to pass the reforms through parliament “one way or another.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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