The Biden administration is “deeply concerned” about ongoing tensions in Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired the country’s defense minister on Sunday.
“We are deeply concerned by today’s developments out of Israel, which further underscore the urgent need for compromise,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement Sunday.
Netanyahu has backed controversial judicial reforms that would allow the government to overrule Supreme Court decisions and give the executive more power to appoint justices.
He sacked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday, after Gallant became the first member of his cabinet to speak out about the proposal and urged a delay in implementing the reforms. The sacking sparked outrage across Israel as protesters flocked to the streets to denounce the move.
The statement from Watson urged Israeli leaders to “find a compromise as soon as possible,” calling it the “best path forward for Israel and all of its citizens.”
The statement reiterated the U.S. support for Israel, but emphasized that any changes to a democratic system should have broad popular support.
“As the President recently discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu, democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the spokesperson said. “Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support.”
This proposal has prompted international criticism, as U.S. lawmakers have voiced their concerns about the proposed judicial plan.
Israel consul general Asaf Zamir announced his resignation on Sunday, saying he is becoming “increasingly concerned” with the polices of Israel’s government. He specifically noted that Netanyahu’s decision to fire Gallant “convinced” him to step down.
“The political situation in Israel has reached a critical point, and I feel a deep sense of responsibility and moral obligation to stand up for what is right and to fight for the democratic values that I hold dear,” Zamir wrote in a statement.