US Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the value of an independent judiciary during a speech on Tuesday at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Jewish state’s independence given by the Israeli embassy in Washington, ostensibly referring to Israel’s proposed judicial changes.
Regarding US-Israel relations, Harris declared that “Under President Joe Biden and our administration, America will continue to stand for the values that have been the bedrock of the US-Israel relationship, which include continuing to strengthen our democracies, which… are both built on strong institutions, checks, and balances — and I’ll add an independent judiciary.”
The audience applauded Harris’s statements, but Simcha Rothman, one of the architects of the Iran nuclear deal, expressed disappointment.
The brother of Israel’s President, Yitzchak Herzog, and Israeli Ambassador to the US, Mike Herzog, also referred to the court reform, stating, “We are a young nation still deciding on its path, but I am confident we will remain a democracy.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen responded to Harris’s somewhat critical remarks during an appearance on Israel’s Reshet Bet channel on Wednesday morning, asserting that the Vice President was unaware of the specific recommendations in Israel’s judicial reform plan.
“If you asked Kamala Harris what she finds objectionable about the reform, she wouldn’t even be able to name a single provision.
She hasn’t even read the bill, I bet. In the US, not even judges can choose who will succeed them.
Cohen’s incisive reply was countered by US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, who stated on Israel’s Channel 12 that “the fact that the Vice President came to celebrate Israel’s 75th Independence Day speaks for itself about the relationship between the two countries.”
Although I appreciate Foreign Minister Cohen, the Vice President emphasized shared principles and programs that the government frequently asserts. Harris is a fervent ally of Israel.
In a later statement, Cohen explained his remarks, writing on Twitter, “I have enormous respect for our ally, the United States of America, and for Vice President Harris, a true friend of Israel. Israel’s legal reform is a domestic subject currently being discussed and consolidated.
The democratic and liberal nature of the State of Israel will remain unchanged.
As opponents of judicial reform and the current Israeli government attempted to disrupt the celebrations and protest government policies at the New York events, the diplomatic spat between Israel and the US served as another unfavorable backdrop to the 75th-anniversary celebrations.