White House welcomes Netanyahu response to Biden: It’s OK to disagree among friends

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

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House, November 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House, November 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — The White House says there’s “a lot to like about” the statement Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put out responding to US President Joe Biden’s concerns over the judicial overhaul being advanced.

“There’s a lot to like about it. He talked about searching for a compromise. He talked about working towards building consensus with respect to these potential judicial reforms,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby says

“He talked about how unshakable he knows the relationship is between the United States and Israel. And he talked about his great respect for President Biden — That’s a respect that president Biden shares as well. These two gentlemen have known each other for 40-some-odd years,” Kirby adds

“The great thing about friends — I’m sure you all have friends. You don’t always agree with everything your friend does or says, and the great thing about a deep friendship is that you can do that,” Kirby says.

Before boarding Air Force One in North Carolina on Tuesday, Biden told reporters he hoped Netanyahu would “walk away” from his current judicial overhaul legislation, saying he was “very concerned” about the health of Israeli democracy.

Netanyahu responded by saying he appreciates Biden’s friendship and longstanding commitment to Israel and stressed that the US-Israel alliance is “unbreakable” and can overcome disagreements.

The premier said his government is committed to correcting what he believes is an imbalance in Israel’s three branches of government but is trying to do so with as broad a consensus as possible.

However, Netanyahu closed by saying that “Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends.”

Israel is indeed “a sovereign state and sovereign states make sovereign decisions,” Kirby responds, while stressing the importance of Netanyahu’s government securing the “broadest base of public support” possible for its overhaul proposals.

That’s a key point of democracy, and Israel is a democracy.” Kirby says, adding that consensus is crucial when making reforms to systems that effect checks and balances.”

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