Biden has warned the Israeli leader about justice changes

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President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call on Sunday that the U.S.-Israel relationship should remain a pillar of the U.S.-Israel relationship, including “real checks and balances.” Judicial system of the country.

During a phone call between the two leaders, Biden expressed “concerns” about Netanyahu’s plan in a “candid and constructive conversation” that lasted about 45 minutes, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic sensitivities. Conversation.

In a reading of the invitation, the White House underscored Biden’s belief that “the democratic values ​​of the U.S.-Israel relationship have always been, and must remain, that democratic societies are strengthened by real checks and balances, and that fundamental. Changes must be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support.”

Biden also supported political talks now underway in Israel to find a path forward on Netanyahu’s desired restructuring. “The President offered his support for efforts to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms consistent with those core principles,” the White House said.

Netanyahu’s proposed changes — which would give Knesset lawmakers control over judicial appointments, eliminate judicial review of legislation and allow parliament to vote on Supreme Court rulings — drew tens of thousands of Israelis to protest in the streets and warn the changes would destroy Israel’s democracy. A system that no longer protects the nation’s courts from the political system.

A staunch supporter of Israel in his more than 50 years in politics and a long-standing relationship with Netanyahu, Biden has cautioned against the proposals and called for compromise.

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In Israel’s parliamentary system, the Supreme Court is seen as the only check on lawmakers and the prime minister. Israel’s High Court reviews appeals from lower courts and hears petitions filed against the government and public bodies. It has overturned laws targeting Ukrainian refugees and African asylum seekers and delayed the evacuation of Palestinians from the sensitive Jerusalem area. In other cases, rights groups say it has confirmed major violations of Palestinian rights.

The call with Netanyahu, along with Egyptian and Jordanian government officials, helped broker meetings between Israeli and Palestinian political and security officials in an effort to ease tensions ahead of Ramadan, which this year overlaps with Passover and Easter.

The senior administration official said the meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, were the first time the United States had played such a role in the Middle East since 2003. The official noted that Ramadan has been a period of violence for the past two years. Conflicts and tensions have risen in the region, which U.S. officials believe will intensify ahead of this year’s Muslim holy month.

The main focus of Sharm el-Sheikh’s talks was to “make sure that extremist groups cannot take advantage of this period,” the official said. The official said previous Israeli governments had not agreed to such talks in 2021 and 2022, but the White House was encouraged that the two sides were willing to meet this year.

“There were good intentions from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, and there was a firm commitment to intensify as much as possible, especially through the Ramadan period,” a senior administration official said.

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Biden’s predecessor, President Donald Trump, forged a close relationship with Netanyahu and aligned himself with Israel’s hardline factions. Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move avoided by previous presidents in an effort to maintain neutrality between Israeli and Palestinian claims to the city.

Netanyahu, for his part, has embraced his relationship with Trump, using the US president’s image in his election campaign and making little secret of his support for Trump’s re-election.

Since taking office, Biden, who visited Israel last year, has in some ways distanced himself from Netanyahu and sought to reassert America’s traditional position — supporting the Jewish state but supporting the Palestinian cause and advocating for two states. solution.

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