Courtesy of JNS. Photo credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on January 21, 2016

(JNS) The White House on Wednesday welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to U.S. President Joe Biden’s statement on Israel’s judicial reform plan, while downplaying the part rebuking the U.S. leader.

“There’s a lot to like about it. He [Netanyahu] talked about searching for compromise. He talked about working toward building consensus with respect to these potential judicial reforms. He talked about how unshakable he knows the relationship is between the United States and Israel. And he talked about his great respect for President Biden—that’s a respect that president Biden shares as well,” said National Security Council Communications Coordinator John Kirby at a press briefing.

In a statement issued following Biden’s call on Tuesday for Netanyahu to “walk away” from his coalition’s reform effort, the Israeli leader thanked the Democrat for his support for the Jewish state and reaffirmed the “unbreakable” bond between the two countries.

Netanyahu reiterated his message on Wednesday at the virtual U.S. State Department Summit for Democracy 2023.

“I want to thank the world leaders and President Biden, who’s been a friend of forty years, for convening this important conference. You know, Israel and the United States have had their occasional differences, but I want to assure you that the alliance between the world’s greatest democracy and a strong, proud and independent democracy—Israel—in the heart of the Middle East is unshakable. Nothing can change that,” said Netanyahu.

However, in his statement on Tuesday, Netanyau also rebuffed Biden’s political interference in Israeli domestic affairs.

“Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends,” said Netanyahu.

Earlier on Tuesday, Biden had said that “like many strong supporters of Israel, I am very concerned [by the judicial reform program]. I am concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road. I have sort of made that clear,” adding, “I hope he walks away from it.”

Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Republican presidential candidate for 2024, also weighed in on Biden’s remarks.

“It’s outrageous for Joe Biden to lecture Israel on a matter that is entirely their domestic concern,” she said in a statement. “We would never want the Israeli government to push America on issues surrounding our Supreme Court, and they wouldn’t do it. We should let Israelis decide this themselves.”