Democrats pushing Biden to squeeze Israel hard on judicial reform

‘Use all diplomatic tools available,’ urges a letter being circulated for Congressional signatures.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Two senior congressional Democrats are circulating a letter in Congress demanding that President Joe Biden step into Israel’s internal affairs to stop the government’s planned judicial reforms.

The letter, penned by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Con), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Jim McGovern (D-MA), the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, puts concern over Jerusalem’s push to reduce the judiciary’s power over the legislative process on par with the Palestinian conflict as issues that Israel’s current government is allegedly mishandling and require American intervention.

“We urge you to use all diplomatic tools available to prevent Israel’s current government from further damaging the nation’s democratic institutions and undermining the potential for two states for two peoples,” it reads in part, according to a copy seen by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

The letter lumps the issues further together, talking of “our deep concern regarding the planned changes to the structure of the Israeli judiciary, the fragile security situation in the West Bank, and the threat of partial or full annexation of areas that would most certainly be part of a future Palestinian state.”

Regarding the need to intervene against the controversial judicial reforms, the lawmakers cited the ongoing mass anti-government demonstrations in Israel, as well as Biden’s own comments about how important it was for a democracy to have “strong institutions,” “checks and balances,” and “an independent judiciary.”

Regarding the Palestinian front, among other problems, they condemned the recent Palestinian terror attacks and the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of jailed terrorists and their families. While noting Israel’s need for anti-terror operations, the letter also expressed concern over the loss of civilian Palestinian lives, and that “the recent violence and increased tensions could spiral into a major conflict, despite the recent steps taken.”

Although the letter is still looking for more sponsors before being sent to the president, Jewish Democratic Representatives who have signed on include David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. The leftist J Street organization has sent out an action letter asking its supporters to demand that their congressional representatives add their names to the missive.

There has been some pushback from inside the party over the desire to apply pressure on the Jewish state over the judicial reform plans.

While not mentioning the circulating letter, two Jewish House members, Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fl), said in a joint statement Wednesday, “Israel remains our most vital ally in the Middle East. It is also its own democracy.”

“Regardless of our personal views and concerns, Congress should not publicly intervene in ongoing negotiations of a key democratic ally,” they wrote. “Doing so, especially in a partisan way, could undermine those negotiations toward a positive outcome.”

On Tuesday, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas separately blasted the Biden administration and some of his across-the-aisle colleagues for how they have reacted to Israel’s top local issue.

“Far from staying neutral in Israel’s domestic affairs, Secretary of State Tony Blinken lectured [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu about the judicial reforms to his face, tacitly siding with the demonstrators,” he said. “Some Democratic senators have also condemned the reform proposals. Which is awfully rich coming from the Democrats, who have voted to shred this Senate’s ancient rules to pack our Supreme Court and to re-write our Founding documents.

“I guess when American liberals want to change the courts, it’s the only way to save democracy, but when Israeli conservatives want to, it’s a threat to democracy. Go figure,” added Cotton, who is reportedly mulling a run in next year’s Republican presidential primaries.

The post Democrats pushing Biden to squeeze Israel hard on judicial reform appeared first on World Israel News.

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