Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday declared ties with the United States to be “unshakable,” a day after he rejected the American president’s intervention into the debate over Jerusalem’s judicial reform initiative.
“Israel and the United States have had their occasional differences, but I want to assure you that the alliance between the world’s greatest democracy and a strong, proud and independent democracy, Israel, in the heart of the Middle East, is unshakable,” said Netanyahu. “I want to thank … President [Joe] Biden who has been a friend for 40 years.”
Netanyahu on Tuesday rebuffed the U.S. leader’s call to “walk away” from the reform push, describing Israel as “a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends.”
Earlier Tuesday, Biden said that “like many strong supporters of Israel, I am very concerned [by the judicial reform program]. I am concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road. I have sort of made that clear.
“I hope he walks away from it,” said the American leader.
Biden denied meddling in Israel’s domestic affairs, telling reporters: “They know my position. They know America’s position. They know the American Jewish position.”
The U.S. president also shot down reports that Netanyahu would soon be invited to the White House.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu acknowledged that Israel is undergoing a “very intensive public debate,” which he said was evidence of the country’s “vibrant democracy.
“Democracy means the will of the people as expressed by a majority and it also means protection of civil rights, individual rights. It’s the balance between the two. I think that balance can be achieved,” he said.
“And that’s why I’ve promoted a pause that now enables both the opposition and the coalition to sit down and try to achieve a broad national consensus to achieve both goals,” continued Netanyahu.
On Tuesday evening, Israeli coalition and opposition representatives met for the first time to discuss the judicial reform plan, at the Jerusalem residence of Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
A statement from Herzog’s office indicated that there was a “positive atmosphere” for the talks, which were scheduled to continue on Wednesday.
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