update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Netanyahu to receive White House invite after pausing judicial reform

“I believe he will be invited after Passover,” U.S. Ambassador Thomas Nides said.

Then-Vice President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2016. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2016. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister could soon be invited to the White House for a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden after announcing a pause in judicial reforms.

“I believe he will be invited after Passover,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides told Army Radio on Tuesday.

Netanyahu, in a national address, announced on Monday that he was putting a hold on the government’s reform efforts in order to “provide a real opportunity for real dialogue.

“We are on the path toward a dangerous collision in Israeli society. We are in the midst of a crisis that endangers the basic unity between us. Such a crisis requires us all to act responsibly,” he said.

The Biden administration praised Netanyahu’s announcement, which followed a day of nationwide strikes and protests. The worker walkout grounded flights at Ben-Gurion Airport and caused major disruptions across Israeli society.

“We welcome this announcement as an opportunity to create additional time and space for compromise,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing. “A compromise is precisely what we have been calling for.”

She added, “Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support.”

Netanyahu’s announcement was also welcomed on Capitol Hill, with Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) issuing a joint statement.

“As bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee who care deeply about Israel, we welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to postpone consideration of judicial reforms. Shared democratic values have long underpinned the U.S.-Israel relationship, and we hope this delay provides an opportunity to work towards a compromise and de-escalation of the current crisis,” the statement said.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement praised Netanyahu’s announcement, adding that “Israel faces enormous national security challenges and it must remain focused and united. It can ill afford the self-inflicted wounds we have watched unfold in recent days.”

Mainstream U.S. Jewish organizations also welcomed the pause on judicial reform.

“As a next step, we encourage all Knesset factions, coalition and opposition alike, to use this time to build a consensus that includes the broad support of Israeli civil society. Israel’s political leaders must insist on a more respectful tone and debate,” said the statement from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America and the American Jewish Committee.

“A hallmark of democracy is public consensus and mutual consideration. We are confident the resilience of Israeli democracy will successfully overcome the tremendous challenges it faces,” it continued.

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