Biden demands Israel respect the right to protest; Ben-Gvir hits back, praises police conduct

After the White House insinuates anti-judicial reform protests restricted by authorities, Ben-Gvir says mass demonstrations were expertly managed by the police.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Following a statement from the Biden administration demanding that Israel enable anti-judicial reform protests, Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said police had expertly managed the mass demonstrations throughout the country.

The White House issued a statement on Tuesday “urging authorities to protect and respect the right of peaceful assembly. It is clear there is significant debate and discussion in Israel on the proposed plan. Such debates are a healthy part of a vibrant democracy.”

While the statement was carefully worded, it insinuated that there was a possible threat to protests’ rights to demonstrate. The statement was widely perceived as a jab at Israel’s police force after some activists complained that cops took too heavy a hand in managing the protests.

The remarks came just days after Biden called the current right-wing coalition “the most extreme” Israeli government he has witnessed in his decades as a lawmaker.

Following large protests which saw traffic forced to a standstill multiple times throughout the day on many of Israel’s largest highways due to protesters illegally blocking roadways, at least 77 protesters were arrested for preventing motorists from driving, for disturbing the peace, and for physically assaulting police officers.

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“I did not see police violence today, but the use of reasonable force against lawbreakers who attacked police officers, broke the law, blocked roads, and prevented emergency vehicles and ambulances from reaching hospitals,” said Ben-Gvir after the White House statement.

“I am satisfied with the conduct in a very large percentage of the protests, but there are places where improvement is needed.”

In a second statement regarding the protests and reasonability clause released on Tuesday, the White House appeared to take a clear side against the new legislation.

“As the administration has said, both U.S. and Israeli democracy are built on strong institutions, checks and balances, and an independent judiciary,” the statement read.