In recent weeks, Joe Biden has made known more than once his concerns about the Israeli government’s efforts to reform the judicial system. Robert Satloff argues that the president has made a grave error by getting involved in this Israeli political controversy:
The rationale most frequently provided by the White House for the president’s interest is fear that Israel’s democracy will be weakened by speedy parliamentary approval of a law on a vital issue without any support from the opposition, thereby loosening the common bonds between our two great democracies.
But this explanation doesn’t really hold water. It has certainly not been an issue in the past. For example, I don’t recall President Clinton warning Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin 30 years ago not to press forward with the Oslo Accords, . . . which were only approved (via a no-confidence motion) with 61 votes in the 120-member Knesset—a much narrower margin than the judicial-reform vote. And here at home, passing important legislation without opposition consensus is not much of an issue either.
To be sure, there is an important national-security rationale for U.S. interest in Israel’s judicial legislation: that Israel’s adversaries not misread dissent for division and miscalculate into conflict. . . . But, in this case, the proper response is not for Washington to warn Israel’s government that a parliamentary vote risks the foundational “shared values” of the U.S.-Israel relationship, inadvertently fueling its enemies’ warped rationale for adventurism. Rather, the right approach is to affirm the strength and constancy of American support for Israel, regardless of how it sorts out its constitutional housekeeping.