Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he will not immediately resume controversial efforts to alter his nation’s judiciary system.
“I’ve decided to take a timeout, try to get a balance between the opposing views, and there are strongly opposing views in both sides of our society,” he told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I hope to reach this by consensus.”
Netanyahu’s efforts to pass legislation designed to limit the independence and authority of his nation’s judiciary drew massive protests before he announced in late March that he was temporarily delaying efforts to get the reforms passed. “When there’s an opportunity to avoid civil war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, am taking a timeout for dialogue,” he said then.
Speaking to Todd, Netanyahu said that even though he’s not resuming his efforts now, his goal remains the same, limiting judicial overreach and balancing the branches of government.
“We’re trying to bring it back into a proper balance,” he said.
Opponents of Netanyahu’s plan have said the proposed changes would undermine the nation’s basic freedoms. “It’s an attack on the very soul and nature of our democracy,“ former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said last month.
During the “Meet the Press” interview, Netanyahu criticized Todd for how he described his proposed reforms and Israel’s current political environment — and also took umbrage at Todd’s question linking the judicial plan to Netanyahu’s personal legal problems.
“Here’s another fib, another lie. It’s just not true. My own legal proceedings, which by the way are crumbling, all these charges against me have been crumbling,” Netanyahu said, adding: “My case is completely independent from this.”
The prime minister also said he still felt close to President Joe Biden (“a great friend of Israel”) despite Biden’s concerns about the proposed judicial reforms.
“Friends can have disagreements on occasion,” Netanyahu said.
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