The Dallas Morning News

Netanyahu’s plan draws U.S. concern

In ‘candid’ call, Biden presses leader to compromise on judicial overhaul


WILMINGTON, Del. — President Joe Biden spoke Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express “concern” over his government’s planned overhaul of the country’s judicial system that has sparked widespread protests across Israel and to encourage compromise.

The White House said Biden reiterated U.S. concerns about the measure to roll back the judiciary’s insulation from the country’s political system, in a call a senior administra­tion official described as “candid and constructi­ve.” There was no immediate indication that Netanyahu was shying away from the action, after rejecting a compromise last week offered by the country’s figurehead president.

The official, who requested anonymity to discuss the leaders’ private call, said that Biden spoke to Netanyahu “as a friend of Israel in the hopes that there can be a compromise formula found.”

The White House in statement added that Biden “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.”

Netanyahu told Biden that Israel will “remain, a strong and vibrant democracy,” according to the prime minister’s office.

Netanyahu said Sunday the legal changes would be carried out responsibl­y while protecting the basic rights of all Israelis. His government says the overhaul is meant to correct an imbalance that has given the courts too much power and prevented lawmakers from carrying out the voting public’s will.

Critics say it will upend Israel’s delicate system of checks and balances and slide the country toward authoritar­ianism. Opponents of the measure have carried out disruptive protests.

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