Vice President Kamala Harris triggered a backlash with her remarks at the Israeli Embassy during an event Tuesday.
Harris took a shot at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed reforms to his country’s judiciary, which would limit the power of the Supreme Court and grant Netanyahu’s coalition more power to appoint judges. The Biden administration has been among the critics of the proposed reforms, which opponents have said are a power-grab that could lead to democratic backsliding.
US Vice President Kamala Harris said that Israel’s democracy requires ‘an independent judiciary,’ wading into the controversy over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul that has drawn mass protests in Israel https://t.co/BGij6EypIL pic.twitter.com/XjXq74Ndpc
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 7, 2023
Harris said that democracies are “built on strong institutions, checks and balances and … an independent judiciary,” according to the Associated Press. She said that shared values between the U.S. and Israel are the bedrock of the two countries’ strong relationship.
The comments prompted Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to claim that Harris doesn’t know what she’s talking about. “I can tell you that if you ask her what bothers her about the reform, she won’t be able to tell you,” he told Kan public radio. American Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides responded that Harris wasn’t stating anything the administration hasn’t already publicly expressed. (RELATED: Israel Kills Two Terror Group Commanders In Airstrike)
Relations between Biden and Netanyahu have not been as warm as those of past presidents and Israel. Biden has still not invited Netanyahu for a state visit since the latter was elected in 2022, and Cohen called the judicial reforms an “internal Israeli matter” that need not be commented on by outsiders.