A group of Jewish Democratic lawmakers held an intense meeting with Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog during which they expressed their concerns over the government’s effort to overhaul the judiciary, Axios reports.
The lawmakers in the room are to the right of much of their party on Israel and have long been the Jewish state’s most ardent defenders, demonstrating the extent of discomfort in the US with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans.
Twenty lawmakers were present for the meeting, including Rep. Jake Auchincloss and Rep. Brad Schneider, who helped organize the meeting.
One member present called the conversation “frank and candid,” albeit “not argumentative.”
Schneider characterized the meeting as “emotional.”
“We did raise the specter that some of the changes being discussed, if taken to their extreme, could have an adverse impact on Israeli democracy,” Schneider told Axios. “There is a special aspect to Israel as the democratic Jewish state. And that has always had a special place in the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Schneider clarified that the members of Congress did not issue threats to the Israeli envoy but made clear that if the overhaul is implemented “it will be harder “to talk about Israel in the same way.”
Auchincloss told Herzog that he’s heard concern over the overhaul from every corner of the Jewish community that he represents.
One lawmaker told Axios that the group raised concern that the effort to restrict the Supreme Court’s power could lead to harm to minority protections.
Herzog listened to the lawmakers concerns and promised to pass them along to Netanyahu, a lawmaker present told Axios.
The Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the report.