The U.S. State Department stressed on Tuesday that the Biden Administration has no intention to slash aid to Israel following the passing into law by Israel’s coalition of key judicial reform legislation.
Responding to a leading question by Said Arikat, who reports for a Palestinian paper and has a history of anti-Israel attacks disguised as questions, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel reiterated that Jerusalem’s move would not harm the special relationship between the two countries.
“There is not going to be any cut or stoppage of military aid, and that is because our commitment to Israel and our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad. Our decades-long partnership with Israel is ironclad,” said Patel.
“We understand that the talks on attempts at a compromise on judicial reform will continue in the coming weeks and months with the aim of reaching a consensus through dialogue. I am not one to speculate about the success of the talks, but there are internal talks, in order to reach a broader consensus,” the spokesperson added.
On Monday afternoon, all 64 members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition voted into law a bill to restrict judges’ use of the “reasonableness” standard. The amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary bars “reasonableness” as a justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”
In an address to the nation, Netanyahu confirmed reports that the coalition would seek a broad agreement on the rest of the judicial reform package over the summer break, which starts on July 30. “We all agree that Israel must remain a strong democracy, that it will continue to protect everyone’s individual rights, that it will not become a halachic state,” the prime minister said, using the term for Jewish law.
On Tuesday evening, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke by phone with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who reportedly “underscored the United States’ belief that broad consensus through political dialogue, especially in the coming weeks and months, are critical elements of a resilient democracy.”
According to the Pentagon’s readout of the call, Austin reiterated that the “U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is steadfast and unwavering, and affirmed that the Department of Defense is focused on initiatives that deepen military cooperation.”
Gallant responded by saying that “Israel is a strong democracy, and it will remain so in the future,” according to his office.