Home News ‘Friends’: The White House downplays the public spat between Biden and Netanyahu

‘Friends’: The White House downplays the public spat between Biden and Netanyahu

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Washington, DC. – The White House has played down apparent tensions between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, describing the public spat this week as amicable.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby confirmed Wednesday that Biden and Netanyahu are “friends” who have known each other for nearly four decades.

“I’m sure you have friends,” Kirby told reporters Wednesday. “You don’t always agree with everything your friend does or says. The good thing about a deep friendship is that you can be honest with each other.”

The day before, Biden had criticized Netanyahu’s far-right government’s plans to overhaul Israel’s justice system, which opponents say would limit government oversight by Israeli courts and weaken democracy in the country.

The proposal has already sparked nationwide protests in Israel. Several American Jewish organizations, including some staunchly pro-Israel, have also spoken out against the plan.

Netanyahu postponed the judicial reform process on Monday in the wake of the mass protests.

“Like many loyal supporters of Israel, I am deeply concerned. And I fear they will succeed. They cannot continue down this path,” Biden said Tuesday when asked about the “health of democracy” in Israel.

“And I kind of made that clear. We hope that the prime minister will act in a way that tries to find a real middle ground. But that is not clear yet.”

The US president added that he would not invite Netanyahu to the White House in the “short term”.

Netanyahu was quick to respond to Biden’s remarks. “Israel is a sovereign state that makes its decisions with the will of its people and is not based on pressure from outside, including its best friends,” Netanyahu wrote in a series of tweets.

But he called the alliance between the United States and Israel “unbreakable,” adding that his administration is committed to “strengthening democracy by restoring an appropriate balance between the three branches of government, which we are working towards through a broad consensus.”

Israel — which major rights groups, including Amnesty International, accuse of enforcing apartheid on the Palestinians — receives at least $3.8 billion in US military aid annually.

Moreover, the United States is Israel’s largest diplomatic supporter. Washington often uses its veto power and political influence to block UN Security Council proposals to condemn Israeli abuses against the Palestinians.

Although Netanyahu dismissed Biden’s criticisms, White House chief Kirby said on Wednesday that “there is a lot to like” about the Israeli prime minister’s statement on judicial reforms, including Netanyahu’s assertion that he will seek consensus.

Although the Biden administration has previously issued statements against Netanyahu’s domestic policies as well as Israel’s plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank, US officials repeatedly stress Washington’s commitment to Israel.

“We continue to support Israel’s security, and our commitment to Israel’s security and democracy remains unwavering,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said earlier this week.

And we are working with our Israeli partners on a number of issues, including Prime Minister Netanyahu. »

Asked if Washington still had faith in Netanyahu’s leadership abilities, Patel replied, “I have no other assessment to offer.”

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