American-Israeli relations have had a special status for years. For decades, Israel has been recognized as the only pro-Western democracy in the region and America’s partner in the fight against terrorism. But trust in an ally is now being put to the test. The reform of the judiciary proposed by Netanyahu’s government strikes at democratic values, i.e. what the two countries have been so strongly connected with so far.
The Joint Houses of Congress greeted the President of Israel with a standing ovation. During his visit to the United States, Izaak Herzog does not shy away from difficult topics. During his address to Congress, he made extensive reference to current events in his country.
Although Herzog himself is an opponent of the so-called judicial reform pushed by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington he assured that Israel is a healthy, strong democracy.
I respect criticism, especially from friends, even though I don’t always agree with it. Criticism of Israel must not turn into denial of the State of Israel. Questioning the Jewish people’s right to self-determination is not legitimate diplomacy, it’s anti-Semitism.
Not all seats in Congress were occupied, as some Democrats boycotted the speech in protest against the actions of the Israeli government.
Herzog was received at the White House by Joe Biden on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel. In the language of diplomacy, an invitation for a president who performs only representative functions, and not for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who exercises real power, may be perceived as an affront. The White House has made it very clear many times that it does not support changes in the judiciary. In March, Joe Biden told reporters that there would be no invitation for the foreseeable future and that Netanyahu should back off the reforms.
– I value the alliance with the United States very much. I cherish my 40-year friendship with President Biden, and I don’t think anything can change that. However, these are our internal issues that we are trying to resolve. You’re not backing down because there’s a problem – you’re trying to solve it,” Benjamin Netanyahu said in April.
Biden was asked again about the invitation of the Israeli prime minister in an interview on July 9. – First, we have a visit from the president of Israel. We also have other contacts. I believe that until now I have been an undeniable supporter of Israel. Bibi is trying to deal with the current problems in his coalition, and in this cabinet there are some of the most extreme politicians I have ever seen,” replied the American president.
Invitation to the Prime Minister
The subject of the overdue visit of the Prime Minister of Israel returns regularly. The politicians spoke by phone last Monday and finally the invitation fell through.
– (President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu – editor’s note) agreed that they will probably meet before the end of this year. All details of where and when are being worked out. However, our concerns remained. All these reports (regarding the situation in Israel – editor’s note) are very disturbing, said the spokesman for the American National Security Council, John Kirby.
Every time representatives of the American administration critically comment on the current situation in Israel, they simultaneously emphasize that security guarantees remain unwavering. The American-Israeli alliance is solid, although there is no doubt that bilateral relations are in a serious crisis. The New York Times commentator Thomas Friedman, who spoke at length with Joe Biden after Herzog’s visit, wrote that the American president is deeply and sincerely concerned about Netanyahu’s attitude – deeply and sincerely, like a good friend.
“Biden asks Netanyahu and his supporters to understand one thing: if we stop sharing democratic values, it will be difficult to maintain the special bond that Israel and the United States have enjoyed for the past 75 years for years to come. Joe Biden may be the last pro-Israel Democratic president. Ignore his sincere concerns at your peril,” we can read.
Facts about the world TVN24 BiS
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/SHAWN THEW