Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday the alliance with the United States was “unshakable” as he addressed a democracy summit called by President Joe Biden, who has voiced alarm over explosive judicial proposals.
Netanyahu also promised to seek compromise and respect basic rights after massive protests that accused him of destroying democracy with the bid to weaken the judiciary.
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Netanyahu, in remarks to the mostly virtual summit, called Biden “a friend of 40 years.”
“Israel and the United States have had their occasional differences, but I want to assure you that the alliance between the world’s greatest democracy and the strong, proud and independent democracy – Israel – in the heart of the Middle East, is unshakable. Nothing can change that,” Netanyahu said.
Addressing foreign critics, Netanyahu promised that Israel “was, is and will always remain a proud, strong and vibrant democracy as a beacon of liberty and shared prosperity in the heart of the Middle East.”
Biden on Tuesday warned that Israel “cannot continue down this road” and called on Netanyahu to reach a compromise, while calling himself a “strong supporter” of Israel.
Netanyahu, leading Israel’s most right-wing government ever, on Monday put on hold the judicial reforms at least temporarily in the face of a general strike, a day after firing his defense minister for criticizing the plan.
“Israel is undergoing, in its robust democracy, a very intensive public debate – and the debate is, how do we ensure a proper democracy?” Netanyahu said.
He said that critics had “valid” positions that they do not want the judicial reforms to “impair and obstruct civil liberties.”
“We have to make sure that as we shift the pendulum from one side of an ever-powerful judiciary – which is different from an independent judiciary – how do we ensure that the judiciary remains independent, and that we balance the need to strengthen the executive and the legislative [powers] and at the same time protect individual rights?” Netanyahu said.
“I think that balance can be achieved.”
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