Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told US President Joe Biden during their talk last night that he was committed to passing judicial overhaul legislation, the Walla news site reports.
The report, citing two US and Israeli officials familiar with the conversation, says that Biden pressed Netanyahu to reach a consensus over the controversial reform plan.
However, Netanyahu told Biden that opposition leaders were refusing to compromise, calling them extremists and saying they were afraid of the protest leaders.
Netanyahu told Biden that the current “reasonableness” bill being passed was “not a big deal” and said there would be no further legislation until October.
The report says Biden was apparently not convinced by Netanyahu’s explanation.
Biden also reportedly pressed Netanyahu to halt West Bank settlement construction.
Netanyahu told Biden there would be no more construction authorized until next year, the report says.
An American official tells Walla that Netanyahu was very clear with Biden about his lack of space to maneuver with his hardline coalition partners.
Following his meeting with Israel’s President Herzog at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden has told the New York Times that he urges Israeli leaders to halt the judicial overhaul legislation, suggesting to “Please stop now. Don’t pass anything this important without a broad consensus,” in the words of senior New York Times commentator Thomas Friedman.
In an opinion piece published Tuesday, Friedman said that Biden expressed his wish for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to rush the judicial overhaul legislation. His message to Netanyahu and Herzog is, as summarized by Friedman: “You are going to break something in Israel’s democracy and with your relationship with America’s democracy, and you may never be able to get it back.”
Speaking with Haaretz, Israel’s National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, issued a denial, saying “the Prime Minister gave the President an update and told him the current legislation would be finalized this week, and that he would work for a broad consensus during the summer Knesset break.” Prior to that, Hanegbi said the President did not give an ultimatum for ending the legislation.
Netanyahu ‘should think twice about coming to DC’
In a phone call on Monday, President Joe Biden invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with him in the U.S.
The call, which Netanyahu’s office called “warm and long,” was the culmination of several weeks of diplomatic tensions, which included Biden’s sharp criticism of Netanyahu’s coalition during a July 7 CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria.
But Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS that Netanyahu should be cautious about accepting Biden’s invitation.
Biden’s team has a “schizophrenic relationship with the Jewish state,” Rubin said. “Coming to Washington might mean being a stage prop for prominent Democrats to lecture and embarrass Netanyahu.” The Israeli premier “should think twice about coming to D.C. in the midst of a particularly poisonous U.S. election campaign, lest he be used for Biden or Kennedy or any number of congressmen and senators to try to ‘out-progressive’ each other,” Rubin said. (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is also vying for the Democratic nomination for president.) Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor emeritus and prominent litigator and commentator, sees the Biden invitation differently. “It’s long overdue but a good sign,” he told JNS.
Biden’s and Netanyahu’s call came a day after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) “clarified” that at a conference on the previous day, she meant to call Israel’s government racist, and not the state itself. Other members of Congress who spoke at the event also attacked Israel.
Biden previously criticized Netanyahu’s coalition as “one of the most extreme” Israeli government’s he’s ever seen. He had been criticized for not inviting Netanyahu to the White House since the latter’s reelection in November. (JNS: https://www.jns.org/u-s-israel/joe-biden/23/7/18/303602/)