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Biden and Netanyahu disagree over Israel judicial reform

Biden and Netanyahu argue over demonstrations against Israel’s judicial reform 

Netanyahu replies that Israel rejected “pressure from abroad” when Biden tells Israel to “back away” from judicial changes. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US Vice-President Joe Biden speak in front of media prior to a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. The meeting comes less than a week after a diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Iran that has put Israel’s government on edge.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

According to US President Joe Biden, Israel “cannot continue” pursuing highly contentious judicial reforms that are currently on hold and have caused months of unrest. In response to these remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he does not make decisions based on pressure from other countries. 

On Tuesday, Biden made his remarks as Netanyahu was being accused by his detractors of stomping on Israeli democracy in an effort to increase his own power, sparking unrest and strikes that paralyzed Israel. I’m quite concerned, like many ardent supporters of Israel. During a trip to the state of North Carolina, Biden warned reporters that they couldn’t keep going in this direction. 

“Maybe the prime minister [Netanyahu] will act in a way that he will attempt to work out some genuine compromise, but that remains to be seen,” Biden said, adding that he was not planning to extend an invitation to the Israeli president to the White House, at least “not in the near term.” 

Later, in Washington, DC, Biden urged Netanyahu’s government to rescind the contentious judiciary reform. 

He told reporters, “I hope they leave it.” The Reuters news agency said that Netanyahu swiftly responded to Biden with a statement. 

Israel, he continued, is a sovereign nation that follows the desire of its citizens rather than bowing to pressure from others, even its closest allies. 

Netanyahu claimed that his government was working to achieve reforms “through wide consensus”. 

As I’ve known President Biden for over 40 years, I respect his dedication to Israel, added Netanyahu. He asserted that the Israel-US partnership is unbreakable and “always triumphs over the rare conflicts between us.” 

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog urged the government to cease its plans to modify the judiciary on Monday “for the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility.” 

The head of state, who often stays out of politics, made an appeal on Monday that highlights the concern that the measures have sparked and follows a tumultuous night of demonstrations in Israel on Sunday in response to the country’s defense minister’s dismissal. 

As Netanyahu sacked his defense minister for opposing his plan to restructure the judiciary, tens of thousands of demonstrators stormed the streets of Israeli cities in an unplanned explosion of rage. 

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s former defense minister, was the first senior Likud official to publicly oppose the reforms, claiming that the party’s profound differences risked weakening Israel’s military. Gallant was later fired from his position.

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