Israeli media details US pressures on Netanyahu over judicial reform
The Israeli occupation is under pressure from the United States to halt the bid for reforming the judiciary in light of mass public and international outrage.
The Israeli Walla! website on Wednesday revealed that US President Joe Biden sent a personal and confidential message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to put an end to the judicial reform plans and try to find a middle ground.
The Israeli news site, citing two informed sources, said the letter came in the wake of the dismissal of Israeli Security Minister Yoav Gallant and Netanyahu's decision to postpone the controversial bill that brought the Israeli occupation to a grinding halt.
Read more: Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir reach deal on judicial reform postponement
The confidential message that Biden conveyed to Netanyahu shows that the US president directly interfered in the pressure campaign that the White House ran on the issue in public and private in order to persuade the premier to stop the legislation dead in its tracks.
Furthermore, Walla! said Netanyahu's decision to dismiss Gallant on Sunday shocked the White House, triggering a series of urgent consultations among President Biden's advisors regarding a possible response from Washington, a senior Biden administration official said.
Netanyahu's office announced in a brief statement that the Prime Minister has decided to sack Gallant. However, the Times of Israel noted that "it is unclear what new position he will be given, if any." As per Maariv, Netanyahu now had 48 hours to appoint a new security minister.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu told Gallant that he lost his trust in him after he "went behind the government's back" on Saturday while the occupation Prime Minister was visiting London.
According to one of the sources, one of the ideas put forward in those consultations was to cancel Netanyahu's participation in the Summit for Democracy, which is taking place this week, in the event that he does not stop the amendment.
During the same debate at the White House, it was finally decided that two steps be taken, one public and the other private.
Firstly, Biden's advisors issue a statement to media outlets on behalf of the spokesperson for the National Security Council to emphasize their concern about the situation and call on Netanyahu to push for a settlement.
Secondly, a confidential, personal message was conveyed to Netanyahu from Biden, and the advisors asked the US president to approve this step.
According to Walla!, the sources said that US ambassador to "Israel" Tom Nides handed over Biden's message to the prime minister's office on Monday.
The source said Biden's message was worded more bluntly than the public one sent to the media, and the US President underlined that he expected Netanyahu to back down from the legislation.
Biden decided Tuesday to turn his private message to Netanyahu into a public one, telling reporters that he hoped that the Israeli prime minister would retract his plan for the judicial amendment.
This comes after a White House correspondent said Tuesday that Biden would not be inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in the "near term" after Nides alluded that he would.
Nides had told the Israeli Army Radio that Netanyahu would be invited to the White House in early April, saying he believed the premier would "be invited after Passover."
The US position came after Netanyahu agreed to postpone the judicial overhaul bid that his cabinet was pushing for months, deciding Monday to suspend his cabinet's plans to reform the judiciary, though he stressed that "we will never give it up."
The White House a day earlier underlined that the United States was deeply concerned by events in "Israel" and "strongly urges" Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible.
In the same context, Israeli media cited senior officials in the US administration as saying that they are very concerned about the situation in "Israel" and Gallant's dismissal.
The straw that broke the camel's back
Commenting on the dismissal of the Israeli security minister, Israeli Channel 12 political affairs commentator Yaron Abraham said a senior US source described Gallant's dismissal as "the straw that broke the camel's back."
Abraham explained that it showed that Netanyahu was not in control, saying it was the reason that the US ambassador to "Israel" conveyed a message from the US administration that President Biden expected Netanyahu to stop the legislation dead in its tracks.
He said that Gallant's dismissal and the establishment of a "National Guard" was a purely internal topic that succeeded to get the Americans involved in internal Israeli deliberations.
Read more: US involvement in sparking Israeli protests 'false': State Dept.
Netanyahu on Wednesday responded to Biden's remarks on the government's judicial overhaul plan, claiming that "Israel" does not take decisions "based on pressures from abroad."
"I have known President Biden for over 40 years, and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel. The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us," Netanyahu tweeted.
The occupation Prime Minister claimed that "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."
Moreover, Israeli Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir claimed that the United States needed to understand that the Israeli occupation was "an independent country" and "not another star on the US flag."
Speaking to the Israeli Army Radio, Ben-Gvir said that while "Israel" appreciates the democratic regime in the US, "it is precisely for this region that they need to understand that Israel is an independent country and no longer a star on the US flag."
The occupation Police Minister added that "it should be clear all over the world - the people here went to elections and they have their own desires."
Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that in "Israel" they were very surprised by Biden's words, considering that it was the most dangerous statement on the part of the US administration regarding judicial reforms.
The newspaper cited a senior political source as saying that Biden's statement is nothing less than a "diplomatic attack" or a "resounding slap".
According to the source, Biden's remarks reflect Washington's anger and frustration with Netanyahu and his government and indicate that the Americans do not believe that pausing the legislation is sufficient.
The source added that Biden wants to make clear that the crisis in "Israel" has not really ended.
Elsewhere, the source considered that Biden's strong announcement that Netanyahu will not be invited soon to Washington is the most severe for "Israel" and aims to pass a message to the government.