Israeli lawmakers unanimously passed the first part of a sweeping judicial reform bill despite the Biden administration’s pleas not to, The Associated Press reported Monday.
According to the AP, the bill limits Israel’s Supreme Court’s ability to overrule parliamentary decisions and gives parliament the final call in selecting new judges.
President Biden had called on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to delay votes on the bill, warning that many Americans are fearful of where Israel is headed and attempting to pass the bill without broad consensus would be “divisive,” Axios reported.
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“Given the range of threats and challenges confronting Israel right now, it doesn’t make sense for Israeli leaders to rush this — the focus should be on pulling people together and finding consensus,” Biden said to Axios on Monday. “It looks like the current judicial reform proposal is becoming more divisive, not less.”
Netanyahu has dismissed Biden’s requests to delay the vote and told him in a phone call last week that he was unconcerned about the bill’s ramifications, noting he wouldn’t promote other steps in judicial reform until October, according to Axios. He told Biden that he has tried to gather broad consensus for the bill but hasn’t been able to since parliament opposition suspended talks at the beginning of July, Axios reported.
The AP reported that mass protests and civil unrest have consumed Israel since the bill was announced in January.
Thousands of Israeli military reservists, including fighter pilots and special operation agents, said last week they will not report to duty if the bill was passed, according to Axios.
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The Pentagon is worried that the potential military crisis could weaken Israel’s defense and open it to conflict with Iran or Hezbollah.
U.S. Forces in the region that closely coordinate with Israel’s Air Force could also be operationally weakened by the crisis.
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