US President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “walk away” from his current judicial overhaul legislation, saying he was “very concerned” about the health of Israeli democracy, and warning that Israel “cannot continue down this road.”
“Like many strong supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned. And I’m concerned that they get this straight,” Biden told reporters who asked him about the well-being of Israeli democracy and Netanyahu’s bid to constrain the judiciary before he boarded Air Force One at the Raleigh-Durham airport. “They cannot continue down this road. And I’ve sort of made that clear,” he added, in remarks plunging US-Israel ties into open crisis.
“Hopefully the prime minister will act in a way that he can try to work out some genuine compromise, but that remains to be seen,” Biden said, emphasizing the word “genuine.”
Biden also gave an emphatic “no” when asked whether he would be inviting Netanyahu to the White House, adding: “Not in the near term.”
Asked whether he had spoken to Netanyahu by phone “in the middle of all this” — an apparent reference to street protests that escalated in the last few days after Netanyahu fired his defense minister — Biden said: “No, I did not. I delivered a message through our ambassador.”
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