Biden, Netanyahu argue vehemently over legislative reform


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rebuffed President Joe Biden’s suggestion that the premier “walks away” from a contentious plan to overhaul the legal system, saying the country makes its own decisions.
The exchange was a rare bout of public disagreement between the two close allies and signals building friction between Israel and the U.S. over Netanyahu’s judicial changes, which he postponed after massive protests. Asked by reporters late Tuesday what he hopes the premier does with the legislation, Biden replied, “I hope he walks away from it.”
The president added that Netanyahu’s government “cannot continue down this road” and urged compromise on the plan roiling Israel. He also stepped around U.S. Ambassador Thomas Nides’ suggestion that Netanyahu would soon be invited to the White House, saying, “No, not in the near term.”
Netanyahu replied that Israel is sovereign and “makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends.”The frosty exchange came a day after Netanyahu called for a halt to his government’s contentious legislation “to avoid civil war” in the wake of two consecutive days of mass protests that drew tens of thousands of people to Israel’s streets. “Hopefully the prime minister will act in a way that he can try to work out some genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen,” Biden said to reporters as he left North Carolina to return to Washington.