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‘If not for judicial reform, Netanyahu would have White House invitation,’ says prime minister's confidante

Israel's national security advisor says if enemies of Israel mistake the judicial reform debates as a sign of weakness, Israel 'would show them their mistake'

US President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters, Flash90)

In an interview with Israel's Channel 12 news, Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said he had been told that “if it were not for the judicial reforms, Netanyahu would already have an invitation to the White House.” 

Hanegbi also said that such a visit is “irrelevant” because “the relationship is extremely close.” 

The national security head pushed back against the idea that Netanyahu’s failure to receive an invitation from U.S. indicated a deterioration of relations between the two allied nations. 

“Today we are seeing intimate relations between Israel and the U.S. in the intelligence field, in the operational field, and in the field of security like never before,” Hanegbi said. 

He noted that since Netanyahu returned to the premiership in November 2022, the U.S. has dispatched multiple high-level diplomats to Israel. 

“Biden is constantly sending senior government officials here,” Hanegbi said. He cited visits by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA Director William Burns, as evidence that relations between the two nations continue to be robust.  

An analyst on the Channel 12 news program challenged Hanegbi's claim, saying the officials came to warn the Netanyahu government about the judicial reforms. The comment was rebuffed, however, as the top Israeli official noted that the percentage of seconds dedicated to discussing the reforms compared to other topics “didn’t reach 0.0%.” 

Hanegbi was also questioned about Iran’s recent diplomatic efforts: its rapprochement with Saudi Arabia; the efforts toward calling a ceasefire in Yemen; attempts to rehabilitate Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in the Arab world, and the economic crisis in Lebanon.

Hanegbi stated that the underlying concern was the ongoing internal political crisis in Iran, and the economic difficulties it faces due to Western sanctions and Israel’s successes toward its regional objectives. 

"Iran is in distress, it has been unable to respond for several years to the blows it is receiving from Israel. Zero practical success," Hanegbi claimed. "It is actually isolated, and what has been happening lately is that Israel is encircling it, by promoting relations with Morocco and the United Arab Emirates." 

This explains Iran’s efforts to appear diplomatically successful over the past couple months, Hanegbi claimed. 

Hanegbi also spoke about the Iranian nuclear issue and the possibility of an Israeli attack on Tehran. He said if Iran continues to advance in its nuclear program, Israel will not wait: "If intolerable uranium enrichment continues, Israel will act." 

Hanegbi also warned that Israel’s enemies were looking for signs of weakness in the country. 

“The split in Israel is interpreted by our enemy as a weakness — we will make it clear to them that there is no such weakness,” he said.

He further said that if Israel’s enemies mistook the internal political devision within Israeli society as a sign of weakness, that Israel “would show them their mistake.” 

He also laid some of the blame for Israel’s weakness on those opposing the judicial reforms with inflammatory language. “One of the ways to answer [Israel’s enemies], is to stop clashes between us,” Hanegbi said. 

“There is a chance that there will be an escalation in the conflict, if the situation shows that Israel is in distress," Hanegbi warned. 

During the interview, Hanegbi also indicated that Netanyahu is continuing to pursue normalization with Saudi Arabia. He said the U.S. has recognized how important its role is in the region, following China’s increased diplomatic efforts there. 

He claimed that the U.S. is in discussions with Saudi Arabia regarding the kingdom’s demands from the U.S. in a deal to normalize relations with Israel. 

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

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