US President Joe Biden has shared his concerns about the situation in Israel directly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid protests over a planned judicial overhaul, the White House said on Monday.
White House spokesman John Kirby said Biden has been "very forthright" with Netanyahu.
Biden’s Administration and the legislators in Congress had expressed "grave concern" over Netanyahu’s pursuit to carry out a judicial amendment that could limit the Supreme Court authorities.
Meanwhile, the Israeli embassy in Washington joined a strike, while Israel’s consul general in New York Asaf Zamir announced his resignation.
“We are deeply concerned by today’s developments out of Israel,” said White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
Speaking about the phone call between Biden and Netanyahu, Watson stated that “democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship.”
“Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support. We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons described the protests taking place in Israel as “historic.”
“I have never been more alarmed about the future of Israel,” Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz said. “As a democracy, I think that Netanyahu operates as though.. he can act with impunity, and ignore democratic norms and harm Palestinian people, and that has to stop.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy expressed his belief that Israel would remain committed to democracy.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham hoped that the Israeli officials would be aware that an independent judiciary should exist.
Sixteen House Jewish members had penned a letter urging the Israeli government to suspend the judicial reforms and to find a middle ground between the government and the opposition.
Meanwhile, diplomats in the Israeli embassy in Washington responded to the call of the Histadrut trade union organization for a strike on Monday. The embassy shut its doors and didn’t deliver any consular services.
Moreover, Israel’s consul general in New York Asaf Zamir announced his resignation on Sunday, citing Netanyahu’s decision to fire Israel’s defense minister.
“I believe that it is now time for me to take action and join the fight for Israel’s future,” Zamir said.
This month, 145 American Jewish leaders publicly distanced themselves from a member of the Israeli government, saying Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was not welcome in the United States.
Smotrich “has long expressed views that are abhorrent to the vast majority of American Jews, from anti-Arab racism... to a full-throated embrace of Jewish supremacy,” they said in a statement.
The comments came after the minister called for a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank to be “erased”.