Joe Biden repeated to the Israeli Prime Minister on Wednesday his “concern” about the contested judicial reform that he has undertaken, but the American president also invited Benjamin Netanyahu to come see him in Washington, signaling a desire to ease their difficult relationship.
The 80-year-old Democrat “reiterated his concern about any change in the Israeli democratic system that would occur without the broadest possible consensus,” according to a statement released by the White House after an interview in New York.
This is a clear allusion to the justice reform launched by the Israeli government, which triggered a massive protest movement.
The American president also warned against new “unilateral measures” from both the Palestinians and the Israelis, while Washington opposes Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of establishing new colonies, particularly in the occupied West Bank.
But Joe Biden also “invited” the Israeli leader “to Washington before the end of the year”.
Benjamin Netanyahu, returned to power at the end of 2022, has still not been received in the Oval Office as Israeli prime ministers traditionally are, which has been interpreted as a mark of distrust on the part of the Biden administration.
Their first meeting since Benjamin Netanyahu became head of government again took place on Wednesday in the more neutral setting of a New York hotel, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
The two men, who shook hands, made short introductory remarks to journalists.
Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on the possibility of normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia, strongly encouraged by Joe Biden.
“I believe that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” the prime minister said.
“If any of us had been talking about normalization with Saudi Arabia ten years ago, I think we would have looked at each other and said, ‘What the hell was he drinking? ?+”, joked the American president.
During their meeting, they, according to the White House, “welcomed the likely upcoming holding” of a ministerial meeting between Israel and several Arab countries, in the so-called “Negev” format, in order to “further advance the initiatives regional integration.
The first Negev summit, organized in Israel in 2022, brought together Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, four Arab states having normalized, for a long time or more recently, their relations with the Jewish state.
“Israel is essential”
“Without Israel, no Jew in this world is safe. Israel is essential,” the American president said at the start of the interview.
“There is one thing that will never change, and that is Israel’s commitment to democracy. We will continue to defend the values that our two countries (…) cherish”, for his part promised the Prime Minister. Israeli minister.
The Israeli government claims to want to rebalance institutions by reducing the prerogatives of the judicial power, but opponents denounce an authoritarian project, which removes safeguards against the action of the legislative and executive power.
Joe Biden, candidate for a second term, knows that the subject is particularly sensitive for the progressive Jewish electorate in the United States, very hostile to this reform.
But the 80-year-old Democrat cannot afford a prolonged crisis with Israel if he wants to bring about a normalization of relations between the country and Saudi Arabia, a way of leaving his mark on the diplomatic history of the Middle East. .
His predecessor Donald Trump initiated a historic movement of rapprochement by welcoming in 2020 at the White House the signing between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain of the “Abraham Accords”, which have since been joined by Morocco and Sudan.
It was the first such breakthrough since peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994.
20/09/2023 20:03:37 – United Nations (United States) (AFP) – © 2023 AFP
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