Israel: Biden tells Netanyahu he backs compromise on judicial overhaul
US President Joe Biden on Sunday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that democratic values were a hallmark of US-Israel ties and said he supports reaching a compromise on controversial judicial reform.
Netanyahu, according to his office, assured Biden that Israel’s democracy was healthy.
Since his re-election late last year to lead one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israel’s history, Netanyahu has pursued changes to the judiciary that would give his government more control over choosing judges and limit the power of the supreme court to take down legislation. .
The plan has sparked concern about Israel’s democratic health at home and abroad.
Protests in Israel against judicial reform are intensifying
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It set off weeks of mass demonstrations and on Sunday hundreds of Israeli reservists in elite military and intelligence units said they were joining the protests.
Biden “emphasized his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
Biden talked about the need for checks and balances and seeking broad support when making fundamental changes.
“The president has supported ongoing efforts to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms consistent with those core principles,” the White House said.
Netanyahu’s office said he told Biden that “Israel was a strong and vibrant democracy, and will remain so”.
The two leaders also talked about the “Iranian threat”, his office said in a statement, but did not elaborate.
Critics of the proposed legal changes say Netanyahu – on trial on corruption charges he denies – is pursuing steps that will hurt Israel’s democratic checks and balances, enable corruption and lead to diplomatic isolation.
Proponents say the changes are needed to curb what they see as activist judgment that interferes with politics.