Netanyahu hits back after Biden expresses alarm over judicial overhaul

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to President Biden after the latter expressed concern of a proposed judicial overhaul that opponents say could threaten the independence of Israel’s courts system. 

Netanyahu tweeted Tuesday that he has known Biden for 40 years and appreciates his “longstanding commitment” to Israel. But he said Israel’s government will not make decisions based on external pressure from other countries. 

“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,” Netanyahu said. 

Biden told reporters on Tuesday after a speech in North Carolina that he is “very concerned” about the effort to make changes to the set-up of the judiciary, saying he hopes Netanyahu “walks away” from it. 

“They cannot continue down this road,” Biden said. 

Biden issued his call after Netanyahu announced that he would temporarily delay his judicial reform effort amid widespread protests throughout Israel. 

The proposals include measures that would grant the Israeli Parliament the power to overrule decisions from the country’s Supreme Court by a simple majority vote and increase the power of the government in appointing judges. 

Thousands of workers took part in a strike on Monday in protest against the proposed legislation before Netanyahu announced the pause later in the evening. The country’s largest union called off the general strike after Netanyahu’s address. 

“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,” Biden said. 

Netanyahu has argued that the proposals are needed to strengthen Israel’s democracy and that the country’s highest court has become out of touch with the country and gotten involved in issues that it should not. 

“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,” Netanyahu said Tuesday. 

Opponents have said the reforms would violate checks and balances in the country and likely help Netanyahu as he faces charges over allegations of bribery and corruption.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Benjamin Netanyahu Israel Joe Biden President Joe Biden US-Israel relations

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