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Harris speaks at Israeli independence celebration, alludes to US administration's opposition to Israeli judicial reform

Israeli foreign minister responds, says vice president 'wouldn’t be able to name a single clause' that bothers her

US Vice President Kamala Harris addresses an event hosted by the Israeli Embassy in Washington marking Israel's 75th year of independence, June 6, 2023. (Photo: Screen capture)

Speaking at an celebratory event in Washington, D.C. to honor the 75th anniversary of Israel’s independence, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris commented on the importance of an independent judiciary. 

The remark was the latest instance in which a Biden administration member has commented – directly or indirectly – on the Israeli government's controversial judicial reforms. 

“America will continue to stand for the values that have been the bedrock of the U.S.-Israel relationship, which include continuing to strengthen our democracies, which includes continuing to strengthen our democracies, which as the [Israeli] ambassador has said, are both built on strong institutions, checks and balances, and I'll add an independent judiciary,” Harris said in her speech. 

Harris’ remarks were largely supportive of Israel, as she noted that “the core of the U.S.-Israel relationshipAmerica’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.” 

The vice president spoke of the long-held dream of a Jewish homeland, quoting Theodor Herzl, “If you will it, it is no dream.” 

She described Israel’s success as being “built on ingenuity, creativity and determination.” 

"The United States has been a proud and steadfast partner” of Israel over the decades since Israel’s independence, she continued, saying, “The United States has an unbreakable bond with the State of Israel.” 

The U.S. top official also echoed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), when he said, “America is more secure when Israel is strong.” 

Harris continued by stating that America’s commitment to Israel “endures not only because it is in America’s strategic interests, but because it is the right thing to do.” 

While the vice president's comments about Israel expressed the close ties between the U.S. and Israel, her short remark about the necessity of an independent judiciary riled several Israeli coalition members. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Kan news on Wednesday morning, “If we were to ask Kamala Harris what bothers her about the reform, she wouldn’t be able to name a single clause.” 

Cohen also said he doubts that Harris has read the reform proposals. 

“I don’t know if [Harris] read the law or not — my assessment is that she hasn’t,” he told Kan news. 

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides weighed in on the disagreement by saying that Harris’ presence at the celebration was an indication of the strong relationship between the countries. 

“I have respect for FM Cohen, but the VP said things the administration says every opportunity regarding the shared values and policies,” Nides told Israel's Channel 12 news. “Harris is a strong supporter of Israel,” he continued. 

Following Nides’ comment, Cohen released a statement in Hebrew and English on social media stating: 

“I have deep respect for our ally the United States of America and for Vice President Harris, a true friend of Israel. Israel’s legal reform is an internal issue that is currently in the process of consolidation and dialogue. The State of Israel will continue to be democratic and liberal, as it has always been.” 


While not officially invited to the event, Knesset Member Simcha Rothman, chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, attended Harris’ speech. Videos posted to social media show him listening to her comments, however he did not make any statements in response.

Rothman, the spearhead of the Israel's judicial reform, took part in a live panel discussion with Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz at the Arutz Sheva Jerusalem Conference in New York City on Sunday.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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