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Netanyahu reportedly tells top Biden advisor: ‘Reforms will be softened’

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Jan. 19, 2023 (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told the U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan last Thursday that the judicial reforms under consideration by the Israeli government would be softened. 

Last week, the chairman of the Knesset Constitution Law, and Justice Committee, Simcha Rothman, presented his committee with changes aimed at achieving broader support. Israeli news outlet N12 quoted Netanyahu saying that “the legal reform will pass with broad agreements. It will not pass as it is currently presented.”

Sullivan conveyed concerns from the Biden administration to Netanyahu, saying the U.S. sees him as a leader but stating, “We as an administration don’t like the direction you’re going in when it comes to legal reform.” 

“If democratic values are undermined, it will make it difficult for us to provide unshakable and unqualified support for Israel,” Sullivan said. 

Netanyahu rejected this premise two weeks ago during the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“The claim that legal reform is the end of democracy is completely baseless,” he said.

Netanyahu also rejected an overture by Knesset Member Benny Gantz, Israel's former defense minister, to establish a joint team that would create a reform proposal with a broad consensus. 

“The reform will be discussed in depth in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. This is the appropriate forum and the laws for this discussion," Netanyahu said. 

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told The Times of Israel that U.S. officials would discuss “shared values and the importance of strong democratic institutions” with their Israeli counterparts, but that the U.S. is not “telling them how to construct their judicial system.”  

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

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