Netanyahu Rejects Pressure From Biden to Halt Judicial Reform

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By NTD Newsroom
March 29, 2023Middle East
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Netanyahu Rejects Pressure From Biden to Halt Judicial Reform
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on March 19, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

HAIFA, Israel—Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu rejected pressure from U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday to halt the judicial reform that has sparked massive protests across the country.

Israel is a sovereign country that makes its decisions according to the will of its people and not based on pressure from abroad, “including from the best of friends,” Netanyahu said in a post on Twitter.

The comments were in response to earlier comments by U.S. President Joe Biden to reporters on Tuesday at the Raleigh-Durham airport.

“Like many strong supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned. And I’m concerned that they get this straight,” said Biden, adding that Israel “cannot continue down this road.”

Biden was addressing the growing tension in U.S.-Israel relations regarding the judicial reform planned by Netanyahu’s government. The plans for reform have led to unprecedented protests for weeks.

Biden said he hopes Netanyahu “will act in a way that he can try to work out some genuine compromise, but that remains to be seen.”

When asked if he would be inviting the Israeli prime minister to the White House, Biden replied: “No, not in the near term.”

“The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us,” said Netanyahu on Twitter on Tuesday night and added that his 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.”

The U.S. State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson, Vedant Patel, denied allegations on March 27 that the Biden administration has been funding the protests through a nongovernmental organization called The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, calling them “completely and demonstrably false.”

Judicial Reform Paused

The conservative Israeli leader paused the judicial reform on March 27 to allow negotiations with parties in the opposition.

Negotiations began in the evening of the following day at President Isaac Herzog’s home and lasted for about an hour and a half.

Netanyahu fired Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday, a day after he defied the administration and advocated postponing the reform.

At a critical juncture in the legislation’s approval, Gallant warned that the amendments posed “a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the security of the state.”

On Saturday, Gallant was informed by 200 reservist pilots and 100 medics in the military reserves that they would refuse to serve if the government passed the reforms.

“At this time, for the sake of our country, I am willing to take any risk and pay any price,” Gallant said in his televised address.

‘Not Another Star’

The judicial legislation has ignited some of the largest street demonstrations in Israel’s history and drawn a rare intervention by the head of state.

“For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately,” President Isaac Herzog wrote on Twitter on March 27.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of National Security, in response to Biden’s comments about the judicial reform said: “We appreciate the democratic rule there, but precisely for this reason—[Americans] need to understand that Israel is an independent state and not another star in the flag of the United States. It needs to be clear all around the world—the [Israeli] people went for elections and it has its own wishes.” He made the comment on Israeli army radio on March 29.

Yoav Kish, the minister of Regional Cooperation, said in another radio interview the same day, “We all respect the president of the United States. He can express his stance about any matter related to Israel. But with all due respect, Israel is a sovereign country. Decisions are made here.”

“For decades Israel was the closest of U.S. allies. The country’s most extreme government ever ruined that in three months,” Yair Lapid, Israel’s opposition leader, wrote in a Twitter post on March 29.

The crisis comes as Israel’s security establishment has been bracing for potential violence in the coming weeks as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan overlaps with the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter celebration.

Reuters, Savannah Hulsey Pointer, and Jackson Richman contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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