White House to Israel on Judicial Reform: Big Changes Need ‘Broadest Possible Base of Popular Support’

John Kirby (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty)
Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty

White House strategic communications chief John Kirby said Monday that the U.S. was urging the Israeli government to reach a compromise with the opposition over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reforms.

Netanyahu’s new government has proposed several reforms, many of which would parallel existing judicial structures in the U.S., including allowing elected legislators to confirm judicial appointments.

The opposition has adamantly refused to accept the reforms, which would disrupt the control of Israel’s secular, European elite over the judiciary, in favor of greater accountability to the legislature, where religious parties and Jews from Middle Eastern and African backgrounds have been gaining political clout in recent years.

Some of the demonstrations have disrupted traffic and temporarily trapped elected officials in their homes.

Instead of demanding that the Israeli opposition respect the result of democratic elections, and accept the idea of democratic checks on the power of unelected judges, Kirby called on Israeli leaders to compromise.

Kirby said:

The president also stressed that democratic values have always been and must remain a hallmark of U.S.-Israeli bilateral relations. Democratic societies are strengthened by genuine checks and balances, and fundamental changes should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support. He offered his support for efforts under way to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms, consistent with those core principles, and called on all Israeli leaders to reach such a compromise without delay.

Kirby ignored the Biden administration’s own efforts to explore radical judicial reforms, such as “packing” the Supreme Court with four additional liberal justices. And he did not comment on Biden’s promise to “codify” the defunct Roe v Wade decision, legalizing abortion nationwide despite staunch divisions on the issue.

A reporter asked Kirby whether the U.S. would consider “withholding military assistance” over the judicial reforms. Kirby denied that possibility, saying that the U.S. had an “iron clad commitment” to Israeli security.

Asked whether President Biden intended to invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, as is customary for newly-elected Israeli leaders, Kirby said: “There’s nothing on the schedule right now, for that.”

Kirby also lauded the U.S. role in encouraging talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in recent weeks.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.