Biden still concerned about judicial overhaul as he extends invitation to meet Israel’s Netanyahu

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with him in the United States this fall, the White House said, even as he expressed concern over Netanyahu’s controversial plans to overhaul his country’s judicial system.

Monday’s phone conversation between US and Israeli leaders came a day before Israeli President Isaac Herzog is scheduled to visit the White House and as Netanyahu’s government pushes ahead with judicial changes that have sparked widespread protests in Israel .

The Biden administration declined to say whether Biden would welcome Netanyahu to the White House — as the Israeli leader had hoped — or to New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Visits to the White House are generally standard protocol for Israeli prime ministers, and Netanyahu’s delay in receiving one has become a problem in Israel, with opponents citing it as a reflection of deteriorating relations with the United States. .

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Biden had again expressed concern to Netanyahu about the court plan — as he did in their last conversation earlier this year — and called to the “broadest possible consensus” on the legislation that has been pushed by Netanyahu and his hardline coalition.

Netanyahu and his allies, a collection of ultra-Orthodox and ultra-nationalist parties, say the plan is necessary to limit the powers of unelected judges. Opponents say the plan will destroy Israel’s fragile system of checks and balances and lead the country toward authoritarian rule.

Kirby said Biden also expressed his “unwavering and unwavering commitment” to Israel’s security and the two leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear program and regional security issues. Biden also “expressed concern” about the continued growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and urged Israel to take steps to preserve the viability of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Biden, Kirby said, also welcomed steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to reassert security control in Jenin and other parts of the West Bank and steps taken by Israel and the Palestinians to move towards another round. direct talks.

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