On Monday, Israeli lawmakers approved a key section of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reforms just one day after President Biden urged the prime minister not to rush the legislation, CBS News reported.
Axios reported that the president spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday and told him that the proposed reforms were “becoming more divisive, not less.”
President Biden told Netanyahu that it did not make sense for Israeli lawmakers to rush the reforms and urged him to focus instead on “pulling people together and finding consensus.”
In a statement on Sunday, a State Department official echoed Biden’s call for consensus, saying that the US believes that “fundamental changes” must have “the broadest possible base of support.”
But on Monday, after a contentious session in the Knesset, with opposition lawmakers storming out of the chamber, the measure preventing judges from challenging decisions by the government that they deem “unreasonable” was approved.
Since the opposition stormed out of the chamber, the measure passed the Knesset 64 to 0.
The vote was met with protests outside of the parliament in Jerusalem as well as demonstrations in Tel Aviv.
While Israel does not have a formal constitution, the judicial branch plays a vital role in the government’s system of checks and balances.
The judicial reforms proposed by the Netanyahu government aim to curb the powers of the judiciary, including altering the way judges are selected.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that the reforms are necessary to curb the powers of unelected judges.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who initially proposed the reforms, hailed Monday’s Knesset vote as the “first step in an important historic process,” the Hill reported.
Opponents claim that the reforms are a power grab by Netanyahu’s far-right government fueled in part by the prime minister’s personal and political grievances.