Breaking silence on overhaul, Republicans lament its security ramifications

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to journalists in Jerusalem during his visit to Israel, June 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
US Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to journalists in Jerusalem during his visit to Israel, June 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

WASHINGTON — Breaking their silence on the judicial overhaul being advanced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Republican lawmakers are expressing concern over its security ramifications for Israel.

“I’m concerned that this effort to reform the judiciary — which is up to them — has had an effect of weakening the security apparatus,” Sen. Lindsey Graham tells the Jewish Insider news site after Netanyahu announced a temporary suspension of the overhaul amid mass protests against it. “I am glad Bibi [Netanyahu] wanted to try to find a compromise and take the time out… Their security has been affected by all this domestic drama.”

Graham was referencing the growing numbers of IDF reservists who either threatened to refuse to report for duty if the overhaul is passed or already did so, sparking massive panic among the military’s top brass, which has warned that the protests are harming its operational capacity.

Sen. Marco Rubio tells Jewish Insider he was also concerned about the overhaul’s impact on the security situation, but avoided commenting on the specific proposals being pushed by Netanyahu’s government.

“The military people are refusing to show up to work — that’s concerning. I think it encourages Israel’s adversaries to potentially strike against them,” he says.

Sen. Todd Young tells reporters the fallout over the overhaul has produced a “really concerning situation” due to its “national security implications.”

Another Republican senator, Mitt Romney, signed on to a joint bipartisan statement yesterday with Sen. Chris Murphy that welcomed Netanyahu’s decision to pause the overhaul effort.

“Shared democratic values have long underpinned the US-Israel relationship, and we hope this delay provides an opportunity to work towards a compromise and de-escalation of the current crisis,” the two senators wrote.

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