NATIONAL NEWS

Biden still concerned about judicial overhaul as he extends invite to meet with Israel’s Netanyahu

Jul 17, 2023, 1:29 PM

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, left, listens as National Security Council spokesma...

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, left, listens as National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — controversial plans to overhaul his country’s judicial system.

Monday’s phone conversation between the U.S. and Israeli leaders came one day before Israel’s figurehead president Isaac Herzog sparked widespread protest in Israel.

The Biden administration declined to say whether Biden would host Netanyahu at the White House — as the Israeli leader has hoped — or in New York on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly.

White House visits are typically standard protocol for Israeli prime ministers, and the delay in Netanyahu receiving one has become an issue in Israel, with opponents citing it as a reflection of deteriorating relations with the U.S.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden again on Monday expressed concern to Netanyahu over the judicial plan — as he did when they last spoke earlier this year — and urged the “broadest possible consensus” over the legislation that has been pushed by Netanyahu and his hard-line coalition.

Netanyahu and his allies, a collection of ultra-Orthodox and ultranationalist parties, say the plan is needed to rein in the powers of unelected judges. Opponents say the plan will destroy Israel’s fragile system of checks and balances and move the country toward authoritarian rule.

Kirby said Biden also expressed his “ironclad, unwavering commitment” to Israel’s security and that the two leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear program and regional security issues. Biden also “expressed concern” over Israel’s continued settlement growth in the West Bank and urged Israel to take steps to preserve the viability of a two state solution with Palestinians.

Biden, Kirby said, also welcomed steps by the Palestinian Authority to reassert security control in Jenin and other areas of the West Bank and moves by Israel and Palestinians to move toward another round of direct talks.

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Biden still concerned about judicial overhaul as he extends invite to meet with Israel’s Netanyahu