President of the United States Joe Biden finally made it clear on Tuesday that he is opposed to the judicial reform plans proposed by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The President’s comments were so stern that Netanyahu felt the need to state his own, reaffirming that Israel continues to have a strong relationship with the U.S., while also ripping Biden for what Netanyahu sees as interference in Israel’s domestic policies.
President Biden gave what may have been unscripted remarks when, while he boarded Air Force One at Raleigh-Durham International Airport Tuesday afternoon, he expressed concerns over the Israel judicial reform plan, saying, “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.”
On the current pause over the legislation while negotiations are held on a possible compromise deal Biden added, “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.”
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And White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday of the pause, “We welcome this announcement as an opportunity to create additional time and space for compromise. [This] is precisely what we have been calling for.”
US Ambassador Tom Nides, in an interview with Israeli media, also expressed hopes that the mediation efforts will lead to a compromise solution. And he was also forced to categorically deny and connection between the U.S. and the anti-government protestors. Many government supporters, including the Prime Minister’s son Yair Netanyahu, have spread unfounded allegations that the American government is behind the protests.
In response to all of this, Benjamin Netanyahu said in his statement, “I have known President Biden for over 40 years, and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel.”
“The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us,” he declared.
And Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that his government sees its judicial reforms as a way to strengthen Israel’s democracy, not to harm it, saying, “My administration is 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.”
And in a dig at the President for what Netanyahu sees as interference in Israel’s domestic policies, Netanyahu said, “Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends.”
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog hosted the first of a series of meetings with representatives of both the coalition and opposition at the President’s Residence Tuesday in an effort to negotiate a compromise deal on judicial reform.