Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a shot at foreign interventions into Israeli democracy during an interview with Fox News that aired on Sunday.
“I’ve been elected six times democratically for a total of 16 years, and in all those years I never commented on internal debates in other democracies. I have chosen not to do that,” the premier said in response to a question from “Life, Liberty and Levin” host Mark Levin.
“Everyone has an opinion on Israel. They don’t have an opinion on the riots in France or the debates that happen inside other countries,” Netanyahu continued.
“You have a major debate between the Supreme Court and the executive right now in America, and I really don’t care to comment about it. People choose to comment about ours. It’s OK. We’ll make our own decisions. In sovereign states, sovereign democracies, the elected representatives of the people make the decisions, and that is how it is going to be in Israel.”
U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly called on Netanyahu to seek a broad consensus before forging ahead with the judicial reform effort.
In a statement to Axios published on July 23, the president said that “it looks like the current judicial reform proposal is becoming more divisive, not less.”
He added: “Given the range of threats and challenges confronting Israel right now, it doesn’t make sense for Israeli leaders to rush this—the focus should be on pulling people together and finding consensus.”
In his Fox interview, Netanyahu denied that the reform push was weakening Israel’s democracy, as its opponents claim, stating that it was in fact “strengthening democracy. We’re bringing it back in line to where most democracies are. Where Israel was in its first five decades and where it should be now in the coming decades.”
Israel’s 15 Supreme Court justices, led by Chief Justice Esther Hayut, are “respectable people,” he said, adding, “I don’t have anything bad to say about them as individuals.” However, he continued, it was not fair that unelected judges should get to decide on issues instead of the people, while also pointing out that the pendulum can’t swing too far the other way, that judicial review is necessary.
“There is a balance. We are trying to restore the balance. That is said to be the end of democracy, and this is just silly,” he said.
The Fox News interview is part of a foreign media blitz the prime minister has undertaken since his coalition passed a key piece of judicial reform legislation into law last week.