JERUSALEM Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Wednesday accused Vice President Kamala Harris that he is ignorant of the judicial reform process unfolding in the Jewish state in the latest clash between the Biden administration and the conservative government of Israel over domestic politics in the Middle Eastern country.
In response to Harris’ speech on Tuesday Embassy of Israel in Washington DCwhere she stated that Israeli democracy requires “an independent judiciary,” Cohen countered to Israeli public broadcaster Kan News.
“I don’t know if she read the bill. In my estimation, no.”
Harris submitted their comments at a reception dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel, hosted by the country’s embassy in Washington. Harris’ remarks on reform drew applause.
Later Wednesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry changed the tone of Cohen’s comments in tweets written in both English and Hebrew. However, he stressed that efforts to reform the Israeli judiciary are an internal affair of the country’s democracy.
“I deeply respect our ally the United States of America and Vice President Harris, a true friend of Israel. Israel’s legal reform is an internal issue that is currently in the process of consolidation and dialogue.” Cohen tweeted. “The State of Israel will remain democratic and liberal, as it has always been.”
Jason Greenblatt, former White House Middle East envoy and author of On the Way of Abraham. told Fox News Digital on Monday, “The Biden administration continues to pressure the Israeli government to abandon its judicial reform plans. This is a blatant interference in the internal politics of another country.
“Israel has a strong democracy. The world saw this with massive protests for and against judicial reform. The Biden administration continues to think that America can dictate what the policies of its allies should be. This kind of US pressure on other countries “Internal affairs with Saudi Arabia failed, and it will not work with Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration is seeking to overhaul the judiciary in order to transfer more power from the Supreme Court to the country’s parliament (Knesset). Opponents of judicial reform see the legal reform process as an attempt to weaken Israel’s system of checks and balances.
Harris said during her speech on Tuesday that “America will continue to uphold the values that have been the foundation of the US-Israel relationship, including further strengthening our democracies, which, as the (Israeli) ambassador said, are both built on strong institutions, a system of checks. and counterweights. And, I would add, an independent judiciary.”
Harris also reaffirmed the Biden administration’s “iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security.”
Judicial reform process triggered duels mass protests among Israelis for and against overhaul. For more than twenty weeks, activists who reject the reform process have consistently staged weekend demonstrations.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose post is largely symbolic, is trying to reach a compromise between the Netanyahu administration and the opposition in the Knesset over judicial reform.
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Neides stressed that Harris is a “strong supporter of Israel” in comments made to the Israeli news organization Channel 12 following Cohen’s criticism of the vice president.
“I respect Cohen, but the vice president said what the administration says at every opportunity regarding our shared values and policies,” Nides said.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to comment on the matter to Fox News Digital. Press inquiries sent to the US State Department, Vice President Harris’ office, and the US Embassy in Jerusalem were not returned.
Reuters contributed to this report.