Biden said Israel's judicial plan could 'break' relations with US: report

Biden said Israel's judicial plan could 'break' relations with US: report
The US president has called on Israel's government to halt its plans to overhaul the judiciary, which has shaken the Israeli political scene for months.
2 min read
19 July, 2023
Herzog's Washington visit comes at the backdrop of growing US criticism of the Israeli government [Getty]

US President Joe Biden has urged the Israeli government to stop its controversial judicial overhaul plan, warning it could harm relations with Washington, according to a recent report.

"Please stop now. Don’t pass anything this important without a broad consensus," Biden was quoted telling his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog during a meeting at the White House this week, according to senior The New York Times commentator Thomas 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," Biden conveyed to Israel’s government, as quoted by Friedman in an opinion piece on Tuesday.

Biden reportedly wants Netanyahu to avoid rushing his plans for the Israeli judiciary amid growing controversy and opposition, as critics say the move would largely limit the powers of the Supreme Court and endanger "Israel’s democracy".

But an Israeli official denied Biden had said this, in comments made to Israeli daily Haaretz.

The Israeli government’s "reform" drive - cast by opponents as curbing court independence and by Netanyahu as balancing branches of government - has set off a half-year-long constitutional crisis and tensions with the US.

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It triggered mass protests and days of disruption across Israel for months.

On Tuesday, Israeli protesters - including military reservists - blocked highways and briefly mobbed the stock exchange.

The parliament is expected to hold final votes on the highly-disputed bill next week, according to a Knesset statement on Wednesday.

Biden has previously called on Israeli authorities to respect the Israeli people’s right to protest and express their opposition peacefully.

Herzog is scheduled to address the US Congress on Wednesday, making him the second Israeli president to do so. At least five US lawmakers from the Democratic Party announced they would boycott his address.

His visit to Washington came amid growing US criticism of Israel’s hardline government for initiating the controversial legislation and over ongoing illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

On Monday night, the Israeli premier's office issued a statement saying that Biden and Netanyahu had "a long and warm conversation" over a range of issues.

His office added that Biden invited Netanyahu for a meeting, the first since the latter returned to office late last year.