President Joe Biden has admonished Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cease his attempts to ram through his coalition’s controversial juridical overhaul amid mass opposition protests. He recommends instead that the Israeli leader seek a broad consensus. Following a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Biden told New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that if a more “democratic” path is not taken Washington’s “special relationship” with Tel Aviv could be affected.
While still facing a corruption trial, since coming to power last December, Netanyahu’s coalition – made up of Likud, far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties – has attempted to give the Knesset the power to override Israeli Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority vote. The plan also calls for de facto control regarding court nominees.
For months, as Friedman explains, much of the citizenry has joined “large and disruptive mass protests” as this plan has sparked concerns that the overhaul will neuter the Supreme Court, seizing its ability to check the Knesset’s power. Friedman also notes that Israel does not have a constitution. Business leaders have called for more protests, demonstrators have obstructed public transportation by blocking roads, and military reservists have been warning they will not volunteer for duties if this legislation process persists.
Biden expressed to Friedman his support for the protests, saying it shows the “vibrancy of Israel’s democracy, which must remain the core of our bilateral relationship.” He continued, explaining “Finding consensus on controversial areas of policy means taking the time you need… For significant changes, that’s essential. So my recommendation to Israeli leaders is not to rush. I believe the best outcome is to continue to seek the broadest possible consensus here.”
Friedman goes on to clarify “[Biden] is basically pleading with Netanyahu and his supporters to understand: If we are not seen to share that democratic value, it will be difficult to sustain the special relationship that Israel and America have enjoyed for the last 75 years for another 75 years.”
Israel is an apartheid state as several in depth reports published in recent years by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the top Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, and the United Nations have made clear. The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the blockaded Gaza Strip have been occupied or under Israeli military control since 1967. Since Netanyahu resumed his role as prime minister, Tel Aviv has launched drone strikes inside Iran, bombed Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon.
Israeli forces and settlers have killed nearly 200 Palestinians this year. Washington funds the Israeli military with billions of dollars in aid every year, even though this is technically illegal because of Tel Aviv’s open secret nuclear weapons arsenal.
All of Israel’s aggressions, attacks, and mass murders this year have been endorsed by the White House. Biden himself, known for decades as “Israel’s man in Washington,” declared his nation’s ties with Tel Aviv were “bone-deep” last year following an Israeli army sniper shooting an American journalist in the face while she was wearing a press vest. Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in the West Bank while covering an IDF raid against the Jenin refugee camp.
Since January, the current Israeli government has approved record levels of construction in settlements within the West Bank, endorsing 12,855 housing units. In a statement, Israeli anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now said during “the past six months, the only sector that Israel has vigorously promoted is the settlement enterprise.”
Jewish-only colonies, or settlements, which continue to be built inside these territories – militarily occupied for almost sixty years – are illegal per international law.