US anger at Israeli FM's ‘disparaging’ remarks on Kamala Harris's judicial overhaul criticisms

US anger at Israeli FM's ‘disparaging’ remarks on Kamala Harris's judicial overhaul criticisms
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that Kamala Harris 'won't be able to tell you even one clause' about a controversial Israeli judicial overhaul.
2 min read
08 June, 2023
Cohen implied that Kamala Harris was ignorant of Israel's judicial reforms [Getty]

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s statements regarding US Vice President Kamala Harris have created a diplomatic storm, with US officials reportedly angry and the Israeli chief diplomat having to issue a clarification on Twitter.

The dispute began on Tuesday when Harris said that Israel needed an "independent judiciary" at an event marking the 75th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.

The hard-right Israeli government of Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing a controversial judicial overhaul limiting the power of the country’s Supreme Court.

Cohen responded by saying that Harris was ignorant of the Israeli government’s overhaul proposal.

"If you ask her what bothers her in the reform, she won't be able to tell you even one clause that bothers her," Cohen told reporters during a visit to South Korea.

Israel’s Channel 12 television reported that US officials responded angrily to Cohen's disparaging remarks.

The US has repeatedly criticised the judicial overhaul proposal, which has led to massive protests in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides observed that Harris "said things the administration says at every opportunity regarding the shared values and policies. Harris is a strong supporter of Israel".

Cohen was forced to clarify his remarks, tweeting later that he had "deep respect for our ally the United States of America and for Vice President Harris, a true friend of Israel".

However, he added that the judicial overhaul was an "internal issue".

The US-Israel alliance has come under increasing strain since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power at the head of a far-right Israeli government which has expanded settlement in the West Bank and intensified violence against Palestinians.