President Joe Biden urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to review his government’s plans to reform the country’s left-leaning judicial system in a “frank and candid” phone conversation on Sunday, according to a senior U.S. administration official.
“The President…underscored his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship, that democratic societies are strengthened by genuine checks and balances, and that fundamental changes should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support,” a State Department readout of the call said.
“The President offered support for efforts underway to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms consistent with those core principles,” the statement added.
Netanyahu told Biden “that Israel was, and will remain, a strong and vibrant democracy,” according to an Israeli transcript of the conversation.
Biden in 2021 endorsed reforms for the U.S. Supreme Court, including court-packing, which are seen by many as more radical than Israel’s proposal. As Harvard professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, noted in a radio debate on Israel’s judicial reform crisis last week: “No one took to the streets to protest the [Biden administration’s] packing the Supreme Court because nobody cares.”
“If exactly the same proposals had been made by a centrist or left-wing [Israeli] government, there would be no protests. No one would care,” Dershowitz added.
The Biden administration declined to defend Israel at a United Nations Security Council meeting Thursday called to rebuke Israel for allowing a Jewish minister to visit the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. https://t.co/OAe6td3C0x
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The U.S. administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, dodged a question about a long-awaited invitation to Netanyahu to the White House, saying that Washington “looks forward to getting the two leaders together.” He admitted that no date was forthcoming, despite multiple squandered opportunities to issue an official invitation.
An Israeli report said last week Netanyahu instructed several government ministers that they were not allowed to take meetings in the White House until he had received a formal invitation there himself.
He added that Biden hoped a “broad consensus” could be reached around the issue of judicial reform, repeating comments made by Biden himself to the New York Times last month, when he became the first U.S. president to directly weigh in on Israel’s domestic affairs.
The White House readout also noted Biden “welcomed” Israel’s participation in a security summit in Egypt on Sunday, in which Jerusalem committed to stop “settlement discussions” for up to half a year. The summit was was also attended by representatives from the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan and the U.S.
During the summit, a Palestinian terrorist shot an American-Israeli in the head from point blank range in the town of Huwara, the same place where Israeli brothers Hillel and Yaakov Yaniv were murdered by terrorists three weeks ago.
That attack, too, took place during an earlier security summit in Aqaba, Jordan, between the same delegations. Then, too, Israel promised a freeze on settlement discussions.
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