Skip to main content

Israel: Biden tells Netanyahu he backs compromise on judicial overhaul

Biden says democratic values a hallmark of US-Israeli ties during call with Netanyahu amid concern for Israel's democratic health at home and abroad
US President Joe Biden speaks about the US banking system on March 13, 2023 in the Roosevelt Room of the WHite House in Washington, DC. AFP
During a call with Netanyahu, Biden 'underscored his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship'. (AFP)

US President Joe Biden on Sunday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that democratic values were a hallmark of US-Israeli ties and said he supported finding a compromise over a highly contested judicial overhaul.

Netanyahu, according to his office, assured Biden that Israel's democracy was healthy.

Since being reelected late last year to head one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israel's history, Netanyahu has been pursuing changes to the judiciary that would give his government greater sway in selecting judges and limit the power of the Supreme Court to strike down legislation.

The plan has stirred mass protests in the country and concern among its traditional western allies.

Protests in Israel against judicial reform intensify
Read More »

It has triggered weeks of demonstrations and, on Sunday, hundreds of Israeli reservists in elite military and intelligence units said they were joining the protests.

Biden "underscored his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship," the White House said in a readout of the call.

Biden spoke of the need for checks and balances and for seeking broad support when making fundamental changes.

"The president offered support for efforts underway to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms consistent with those core principles," the White House said.

Netanyahu's office said he told Biden "that Israel was, and will remain, a strong and vibrant democracy".

The two leaders also spoke about the "Iranian threat", his office said in a statement, but it did not elaborate.

Critics of the planned law changes say Netanyahu - on trial on corruption charges that he denies - is pursuing steps that will hurt Israel's democratic checks and balances, enable corruption and bring diplomatic isolation.

Proponents say the changes are needed to curb what they deem an activist judiciary that interferes in politics.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.