US ‘deeply concerned’ after PM fires Gallant, urges compromise on judicial revamp

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The Biden administration expressed its alarm on Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit out at Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the latter’s call for the hard-line coalition to introduce legislation aimed at overhauling the judiciary. on break

“We are deeply concerned by the ongoing developments in Israel, which further emphasize the urgent need for compromise,” a White House National Security spokesman told The Times of Israel hours after the defense minister was fired.

Gallant on Saturday gave a keynote address in which he warned that the government’s attempt to radically limit the power of the High Court of Justice had provoked such a split in society, that “penetration[ed] the IDF and security agencies.”

Gallant was shot less than 24 hours later.

The White House National Security Council spokesman noted US President Joe Biden’s call with Netanyahu last week when the former raised his concerns about the judicial overhaul.

“As the President discussed directly with Prime Minister Netanyahu recently, democratic values ​​have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship,” the spokesperson said.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks in a televised address on 25 March 2023. (Courtesy)

“Democratic societies are strengthened by real checks and balances, and fundamental changes should be pursued with the widest possible support base,” the spokesman said, looking at the reform effort, says critics who will be neutralized and granted by the High Court. unchecked power to the Knesset, which is already effectively controlled by the government in power.

Proponents of reform argue that the court has wielded too much power over the past decades and that the coalition’s proposals will restore balance between the branches of government.

A spokesman for the National Security Council said the United States continues to strongly urge Israeli leaders to reach an agreement as soon as possible that is based on popular support.”

The White House’s comments largely echoed the messages offered by the Biden administration for weeks in both private and public forums in which it showed its support for President Isaac Herzog’s efforts to find a compromise between the coalition and the opposition. A month ago, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides asked the government to “pump the breaks” on its legislative effort

But the decision to issue an additional statement after Gallant’s shooting reflected growing concern in Washington over worsening developments in Israel.

Just a day before, the US summoned Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Mike Herzog to the State Department to express the administration’s displeasure over the passage of Knesset legislation that will allow the resettlement of the Northwest Bank areas that Israel left in 2005.

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and then-US vice president Joe Biden speak to the media before a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 21 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler )

The move was a further downgrade in ties between Israel and the US, which have steadily deteriorated since Netanyahu returned to power three months ago.

Another senior US official told The Times of Israel last week that while Knesset legislation prompted Herzog’s summons, it was actually much more than that.

“The reality is that a lot of things have rocked the boat,” the senior US official told The Times of Israel, explaining that the combination of the repeal of the Disengagement Law, the radical plans for judicial reform, new settlement announcements and statements from the Minister for Finance. Bezalel Smotrich has proven that just another criticism from the State Department is enough for the administration.

An invitation to the White House was not extended during Biden’s call with Netanyahu, and a senior US official explained that one would likely not be offered in the near future.

“Not because of us, but because he will not want to come until this is resolved,” the official said, speculating that Netanyahu would not want the president to use his next meeting of Oval Office to guide the government’s judicial reform plans. .

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