In video: Benjamin Netanyahu in his meeting with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan (Roam Media)
American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who will arrive in Israel on Monday, intends to continue the conversation that White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan began with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the Biden administration's concerns regarding the plan to weaken the Supreme Court, according to senior American officials briefed on the matter.
why is it important
The Biden administration's concern about the new Israeli government's policy on the Palestinian issue has been replaced in the last two weeks by a growing concern about the government's moves against the justice system.
In recent days, criticism of the issue has increased from the heads of Jewish organizations and democratic legislators, including some of Israel's biggest supporters in Congress.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made it clear to Netanyahu in their meeting last Thursday that the administration fears the negative impact his legal plan will have on Israel's democratic institutions, according to senior Israeli and American officials familiar with the contents of the meeting.
The big picture
When Sullivan was preparing for his visit to Jerusalem, the new Israeli government's moves regarding the justice system were not his top priority, and many senior administration officials even believed that the United States should not intervene and that Sullivan should not raise the issue with Netanyahu at all.
However, the escalation in the government's actions and the expanding public protest against its plan to weaken the judicial system made the White House realize that the United States cannot continue to sit on the fence and that there is no escape, but to raise the issue directly with Netanyahu and convey the administration's position.
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Blinken and Netanyahu at their previous meeting in Jerusalem (Photo: Government Press Office, Haim Tzach)
in the news center
Shortly before Sullivan landed in Israel, the High Court of Justice published its ruling regarding the cancellation of Minister Aryeh Deri's appointment. and about Netanyahu's plan regarding the judicial system.
A day later, when Sullivan arrived for a meeting with Netanyahu, it was the Prime Minister who brought up the issue of the judicial system on his own initiative.
Senior Israeli and American officials stated that for several minutes Netanyahu explained to Sullivan the principles of his plan.
A senior American official said that Sullivan did not express an opinion on the details of the plan, but conveyed to Netanyahu a more general message regarding the fear that the implementation of the plan would harm the democratic values shared by Israel and the United States.
"Sullivan expressed to Netanyahu the importance we attach to democratic institutions, to the separation of authorities and the rule of law, and to the characteristics that turn democracies like Israel into uniquely prosperous countries - characteristics that Israel and the United States share in common," Lavalle said!
Senior Israeli officials said that Sullivan told Netanyahu that even if this was not the Prime Minister's intention, promoting such a dramatic plan only through a majority in the Knesset and without dialogue with the opponents, could be seen from the outside as an undemocratic move.
Journalist Yaron Avraham reported on News 12 that Netanyahu told Sullivan that he wanted to pass the plan with broad approval in the Knesset and that the final version of the plan would be different from its current version.
between the lines
From the moment the government's plan to weaken the justice system was presented for the first time, the US State Department took a different approach to it than the White House, dealing with the issue both publicly and in private conversations with Israeli government officials.
Publicly, the US State Department emphasized the importance of maintaining the independence of democratic institutions in Israel.
In private conversations, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his deputy Wendy Sherman raised the issue in their meeting in Washington with Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer already two weeks ago.
Blinken and Sherman emphasized to Dermer that they were concerned about the details of Netanyahu's plan regarding the judicial system and asked for clarification, according to sources familiar with the contents of the meeting.
Already expressed concern to Netanyahu.
Sullivan (Photo: Reuters)
Blinken will arrive in the area at the end of the week.
He will begin his visit in Egypt and from there continue to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.
This will be Blinken's first visit to Israel since the establishment of the new government.
Senior American officials said that Blinken is expected to meet on Monday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and to raise with both of them the administration's concerns regarding the plan to weaken the justice system.