On Wednesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog reiterated his support for the independence of Israel’s court and urged the United States to act “forcefully” against Iran’s ambitions to get a nuclear weapon.
Herzog spoke before a joint session of Congress, during which he praised the historical connection between the U.S. and Israel before delving into policy questions. The Israeli leader, greeted with a thunderous ovation, called for action against Iran but acknowledged domestic opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial changes.
The Israeli President said letting Iran cross the nuclear threshold through diplomatic inaction is unthinkable. He said, together with the rest of the free world, Israel and the United States must take decisive action against Iran’s danger to international stability. Herzog said the State of Israel is committed to preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons capability, and he wished to “restate what every Israeli leader has said for decades.”
Protests have been numerous and disruptive in response to Netanyahu’s efforts to change the country’s judicial system. The prime minister and his allies want to limit the jurisdiction of Israeli courts so that they cannot overturn “unreasonable” government decisions.
Herzog pledged to continue working for a national consensus as Israel’s leader. He also promised to safeguard the Jewish state’s democracy.
Republicans have kept up the pressure on the White House to invite Netanyahu to the United States, but President Biden has harshly condemned Netanyahu’s attempts.
On Monday, Biden contacted the Israeli prime minister to set a meeting for later this year.
Herzog applauded the United States for its efforts to keep the peace process between Israel and other Middle Eastern countries moving forward. He cited the Abraham Accords as evidence that Israel is still willing to make peace with any government, an agreement negotiated when Donald Trump was president.
However, there was greater complexity in the leader’s portrayal of the dispute between his country and the Palestinians. He spoke out against the terrorist groups in Gaza and the West Bank, highlighting the incentives for violence against Israel.
Palestinian violence against Israel or Israelis jeopardizes any future peace between our peoples.
Herzog said the State of Israel cannot be called into question in the name of legitimate criticism of Israel. It is not diplomacy to call into question the Jewish people’s right to self-determination; it is antisemitism, he added.