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    NewsUSA and CanadaBiden and Israeli President Herzog jointly discuss tensions in the White House

    Biden and Israeli President Herzog jointly discuss tensions in the White House

    Joe Biden and his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, addressed tensions on Tuesday over a controversial judicial reorganization within Israel that the US president has dismissed as the work of an “extremist” government.

    3 min

    Biden received his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, in the Oval Office of the White House and told him: “You know that my love for Israel is deep-rooted and enduring.”

    But the affectionate greeting did not hide a division over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s divisive push to reform the judicial system and expand Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

    President Isaac Herzog, who plays a largely ceremonial role in Israel, has been quick to address the controversy over judicial reforms, which has sparked massive street protests by opponents accusing Netanyahu of staging a power grab.

    “It’s a heated debate, but it’s also a virtue and a tribute to the greatness of Israeli democracy,” he told Biden. “Let me reiterate, of course – crystal clear – that Israeli democracy is solid, strong and resilient.”

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    Herzog’s high-level visit – which includes a speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday – was an opportunity for official Washington to underscore its support for one of the closest and most far-reaching US alliances anywhere in the world.

    In his opening remarks, Biden stressed Washington’s determination to prevent Iran from ever possessing a nuclear weapon and also spoke of the regional diplomatic thaw that has led Israel and Arab countries to become closer to each other.

    But Herzog’s presence was clouded by the shadow of the leader with real power in Israel: Netanyahu.

    Relations between Netanyahu and the Biden government have been difficult since the latter made his political comeback at the head of a coalition of far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties in December.

    Some lawmakers from Biden’s Democratic Party have said they are considering boycotting Herzog’s speech to Congress in protest.

    “Disturbing” Concerns

    On the eve of Herzog’s visit, Biden eased tensions somewhat by speaking with Netanyahu and agreeing to meet him later this year in the United States.

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    It will be the first such meeting since Netanyahu returned to power late last year.

    But the Biden administration would not say whether the Israeli leader would get a coveted invitation from the White House or if they would speak elsewhere – potentially at the UN General Assembly session in New York.

    “We just haven’t figured it out,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday, denying any “hesitation.”

    National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday that the meeting would be held closer to the end of this year, perhaps “in the fall,” which would coincide with the UN General Assembly session in NY.

    In Monday’s phone call, Netanyahu told Biden that the judicial bill would be passed next week and that he intended “to achieve broad public support for the rest of the reform during the summer recess,” his office said. .

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    According to the US reading of the call, Biden “expressed concerns about the continued growth of Jewish settlements” and “stressed the need to take steps to maintain the viability” of a future Palestinian state alongside Israel.

    As for judicial reforms, Biden reiterated that “shared democratic values ​​have always been and must continue to be a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship.”

    Earlier this month, Biden told CNN in an interview that Netanyahu heads “one of the most extreme cabinets… I’ve ever seen.”

    Kirby cautioned that Biden’s agreement to meet with Netanyahu does not mean “we have less concern about these judicial reforms, or less concern about some of the extremist activities and behavior of some members of Netanyahu’s cabinet.”

    “Those concerns are still valid. They are troubling,” he said.

    *With AFP; adapted from its original in English

    Source: France 24

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