‘UNPRECEDENTED’: Republicans slam Biden for ‘meddling’ in Israel’s affairs

Earlier, Mike Pence also condemned the “preoccupation of Democrats…trying to micromanage what’s happening in the domestic politics in Israel is wrongheaded.”

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) on Monday slammed President Joe Biden’s attempts to influence Israeli politics in the aftermath of a vote that Israel’s governing coalition says is the first step in a sweeping plan to reform the country’s judicial system and that has seen the country rocked by mass protests and divided the global Jewish community.

“Joe Biden’s meddling in Israel’s internal politics is unprecedented and inappropriate,” Cotton said in a statement to The Algemeiner. “He has no business telling one of our most important allies how to govern their own country.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre earlier on Monday had issued a statement criticizing the vote on Israel’s “Reasonableness” bill, the first in a set of measures planned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meant to limit the power of the Israeli Supreme Court.

“As a lifelong friend of Israel, President Biden has publicly and privately expressed his views that major changes in a democracy to be enduring must have as broad a consensus as possible,” the statement said. “It is unfortunate that the vote today took place with the slimmest possible majority.”

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The bill, which bars Israel’s high court from using a standard allowing it to strike down any administrative action that it deems “unreasonable,” passed 64-0 after the opposition members of the 120-seat Knesset abstained from the vote.

Former Vice President and Republican Presidential primary candidate Mike Pence also condemned the Biden administration’s statements in an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show before the vote Monday.

“This preoccupation of Democrats, which literally goes back decades, of trying to micromanage what’s happening in the domestic politics in Israel is wrongheaded,” Pence said. “And it undermines a clear message to one of the most dangerous parts of the world of our commitment to our most cherished ally. I reject it categorically.”

Biden on Sunday had issued a statement to Axios calling on Netanyahu to make a last-minute delay on the vote. “Given the range of threats and challenges confronting Israel right now, it doesn’t make sense for Israeli leaders to rush this — the focus should be on pulling people together and finding consensus,” Biden said.

Israeli politicians have previously condemned Biden’s comments about the judicial reforms, with one member of the Knesset going so far as to write a letter to Congress in March urging Representatives to prevent Biden from repeating his “problematic statements” in the future.

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Netanyahu, for his part, in an address to the Israeli people on Monday, said that his government had done more to seek consensus with the opposition than previous governments had on divisive issues, but that the current opposition refused to engage.

“In previous cases of sharp public disagreement, the governments did not extend a hand to opponents of their policies: Not for the first Oslo Accords, not for the later Oslo Accords, not to the expulsion from [the Gush Katif settlement bloc during Israel’s disengagement from Gaza] and not the agreements that transferred areas of the state and gas fields to Lebanon, in effect to Hezbollah,” Netanyahu said.

“But we acted differently. Here, we agreed to halt the legislation; we stopped it for three continuous months. We agreed to significant changes to the original policy. I say with regret: None of our compromise proposals were accepted, not one.”

Netanyahu added that he would continue to engage with the opposition to find compromise on future judicial reform bills and said that he was willing to extend those negotiations through November.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said in a statement Monday that Netanyahu’s claims about being willing to compromise were a “lie” intended to placate the Biden administration and undermine the months-long protest movement against the reform measures.

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“They will not make us give up, we will not give up, the fight has just begun,” Lapid said.