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April 29, 2023 9:51 am

Netanyahu Minister Says Judicial Reform Behind White House Snub

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US President Joe Biden delivers remarks ahead of the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outside the Royal Castle, in Warsaw, Poland, February 21, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

i24 NewsIsrael’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said on Friday that the government’s proposed judicial overhaul is the reason that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to be invited to the White House by US President Joe Biden.

“It is clear to me that if there was no legal reform, Netanyahu would already have visited the White House,” Hanegbi told Israel’s Channel 12.

Despite the lack of invitation for Netanyahu to visit Washington, Hengbi acknowledged the strong relationship between the Jewish state and the US.

“Today we are seeing intimate relations between Israel and the US, in the intelligence field, in the operational field, and in the field of security like never before,” Hanegbi said.

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Ties between the Biden and Netanyahu governments appeared to be strained over the past few months as the Israeli leader’s coalition attempted to pass its judicial overhaul legislation, amid large protests to the bill across Israel.

Biden urged Netanyahu in March to “walk away” from judicial reform. The American president was quoted saying he was “very concerned” about the future of Israeli democracy, warning Israel “cannot continue down this road.”

The American leader also gave reporters a stern, “No,” when asked whether he would be inviting the Israeli prime minister to the White House.

Biden made clear that he would not be inviting Netanyahu to Washington in the “near term” after speculation that he would. In response, Netanyahu said: “Israel is an independent country that makes its decisions according to the will of its citizens and not based on external pressures, including from our best friends,” leading many to assume a rift in the leaders’ relationship.

The Biden administration welcomed Netanyahu’s decision to freeze the judicial shakeup, and the Israeli premier called the Jewish state’s relationship with the U.S. “unshakable” during Biden’s recent democracy summit.

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