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President Biden Chimes in on Benjamin Netanyahu’s Controversial Judicial Reform Plan

Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden made a comment about the ongoing drama in Israel over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s proposed judicial reform plan that many feel would harm – or even end – Israel’s democracy. In a statement provided to the New York Times, President Biden avoided making any direct comment either criticizing or supporting the reform plan, but his words spoke for themselves.

“The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary,” said Biden. “Building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them so they can be sustained.”

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The reference to “checks and balances” echoed the criticisms to Netanyahu’s proposed reforms who say they would end any check on the government’s actions and that this would lead to abuse of authority. It was the same with the comment on consensus building. But President Biden failed to acknowledge that unlike America Israel does not have a written constitution that delineates the powers of its different branches of government, establishing any system of checks and balances. This is why Israel’s courts stepped in to assert new authority over the years,

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s proposed judicial reforms would greatly limit the authority of Israel’s Supreme Court and its attorney general, leading the country’s opposition leaders to accuse Netanyahu of moving to harm Israel’s democracy. This has led to many, including the governor of the Bank of Israel, to say that the reforms could harm Israel’s economy.

And opposition leaders claim that this would harm Israel’s democracy by taking away the court’s ability to review the legality of government actions.

The tensions and hostility now being felt in Israel because of all of this even led the country’s President Isaac Herzog to call for calm.

President Herzog said that the Netanyahu government should, “Stop the whole process for a moment, take a deep breath, allow dialogue to take place because there is a huge majority of the nation that wants dialogue.”

On threats made against Netanyahu personal Herzog added, “When I see people are threatening to murder the prime minister. It’s a terrible thing that needs to be eliminated and the stain removed. One mustn’t use these types of expressions in the discussion. The debate is heating up to a dangerous place, and I call from here on all those involved in the disagreement: stop a moment, breathe.”

“I wholeheartedly reject any incitement or call to violence,” Gantz told Israel’s Channel 13. “Netanyahu, I oppose such things, and it’s unfortunate you didn’t say such statements clearly more than two decades ago.”

And Israel’s Supreme Court Justice Dafna Barak Erez Friday ordered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General of Israel Gali Beharev Miara to explain why Netanyahu should not declare incapacity following the ongoing trial against him. Barak Erez ordered the state to respond to the Movement for Quality Government petition by next month.

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