‘Frank and candid’: Biden urges Netanyahu to seek compromise on judicial reform

Biden phones Netanyahu, expresses “concern” over judicial reforms, pressures him to pursue “broad compromise.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

U.S. President Joe Biden urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue a compromise regarding a plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system, in a phone conversation described as “frank and candid” by a senior American official.

“The President…underscored his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship, that democratic societies are strengthened by genuine checks and balances, and that fundamental changes should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support,” read a State Department read-out summarizing the call between Biden and Netanyahu.

“The President offered support for efforts underway to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms consistent with those core principles,” the statement added.

Netanyahu responded to Biden “that Israel was, and will remain, a strong and vibrant democracy,” according to an Israeli transcript of the conversation.

An American official who spoke to the media on the condition of anonymity said that Biden expressed concerns about the current judicial reform proposals and that he hoped a “broad consensus” around the issue could be found.

The read-out of the call noted that Biden “welcomed” Israel’s participation in a security summit on Sunday, which included Palestinian, Egyptian, and Jordanian officials. During the meeting, Israel agreed to freeze settlement planning and building for at least six months.

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While the meeting was taking place, a Palestinian terrorist shot an American-Israeli in the head from point blank range in the town of Huwara, where two Israeli brothers were murdered by terrorists three weeks ago.

Notably, that shooting took place during an earlier security summit, where Israel also made concessions around settlement issues.

At a media conference on Sunday, American officials demurred when asked why Netanyahu has not yet been invited to visit the White House.

A spokesman said that Biden “looks forward to getting the two leaders together” but avoided mentioning a specific time frame for the meeting.