Rejecting Chikli criticism, envoy Nides says US won’t stay out of Israel’s business

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

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides claps back at Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, who told the envoy last week to “mind his own business” after Nides called on the Israeli government to “pump the brakes” on its controversial plan to overhaul the judiciary.

“Some Israeli official — I don’t know who he is, I don’t think I’ve met him — suggested that I should stay out of Israel’s business,” Nides says during a live interview at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

“I really think that most Israelis do not want America to stay out of their business,” he says to applause.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The ambassador reiterates his call for the coalition to “slow down a little bit” and “try to build some consensus,” rather than ramming its proposals through the Knesset. Nides points out that President Isaac Herzog has made the same request as well.

He highlights the importance of maintaining a strong judiciary amid the government’s effort to weaken the High Court of Justice. “Last week, when we were defending the State of Israel at the UN, one of the things we always harkened back at is that what we have in common these institutions… and values. That’s what brings us together.”

“Make no mistake,” Nides continues. “We stand by Israel. We work with Israel. It’s a very beautiful democracy. And [that’s] been shown every day, in every way, and it will continue.”

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