Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded after President Biden expressed concern over proposed judicial reforms, saying opponents could threaten the independence of Israel’s court system.
Netanyahu tweeted on Tuesday that he has known Biden for 40 years, thanks to his “long-standing commitment” to Israel. But he said the Israeli government does not make decisions based on external pressure from other countries.
“Israel is a sovereign state that makes decisions based on the will of its people rather than on pressure from abroad, including our best friends,” Netanyahu said.
Biden told reporters after a speech in North Carolina on Tuesday that he was “extremely concerned” about efforts to change the justice system and said he hoped Netanyahu would “walk away” from it. .
“They can’t go down this road,” Biden said.
Biden made the call after President Netanyahu announced a temporary postponement of judicial reform efforts amid widespread protests across Israel.
The proposal includes measures to give the Israeli parliament the power to overturn decisions of the Supreme Court by simple majority vote and to strengthen the government’s power to appoint judges.
Thousands of workers went on strike Monday in protest against proposed legislation before Netanyahu announced a moratorium late in the evening. The country’s largest union has called off a general strike after Netanyahu’s speech.
“I hope the prime minister acts so that he can try to make a real compromise. But we don’t know that yet,” Biden said.
Netanyahu argues that the proposal is necessary to strengthen Israeli democracy and that the country’s Supreme Court has lost touch with the country and is involved in issues it shouldn’t be doing.
“My administration is committed to strengthening democracy by restoring a proper balance between the three branches of government,” Netanyahu said Tuesday.
Opponents say the reforms violate domestic checks and balances and are likely to help Netanyahu, who faces charges of bribery and corruption.
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