Friedman confirms opposition to judicial overhaul, but says criticism respectful

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

Then-US ambassador to Israel David Friedman during a visit in the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, February 20, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Then-US ambassador to Israel David Friedman during a visit in the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, February 20, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Former US president Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel David Friedman confirms an Axios report revealing his opposition to the judicial overhaul being advanced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, but says his concerns were made “respectfully” and were part of an “attempt to find common ground.”

“The tone of the conversation was not about slamming or being critical or pointing fingers, rather recognizing that this is a complicated issue,” he tells The Times of Israel.

Earlier today, Axios reported that during a private session of a conference organized by a pair of conservative think tanks, Friedman pushed back on one of the overhaul’s key architect’s claims that the proposals would make Israel more like the US.

“You compare this to the US, but it doesn’t work like that in our system,” Axios quoted him as having told Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, drawing applause from many in the room.

Friedman also singled out the so-called “override clause” that would let the government re-legislate laws struck down by the courts. He added that in the US, the courts exist to protect minority rights and that the override clause will prevent the Israeli courts from doing the same.

Speaking with The Times of Israel, Friedman adds that protecting “minority rights are an important aspect of the US government and should be for any government.”

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