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White House says Israel's judicial overhaul vote 'unfortunate'

Following a controversial vote in Israel's parliament, the White House urged the country's leaders to "build a broader consensus through political dialogue.”
Israeli security forces detain a demonstrator near the Knesset.

WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday it was “unfortunate” that Israel’s parliament passed with the “slimmest possible majority” a law to curb the influence of its Supreme Court.  

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, gave its final approval to the first part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary, despite mass protests that have convulsed the country as well as months of behind-the-scenes pressure from the Biden administration. 

The new measure, passed by a narrow majority of 64 (out of 120), would prevent the Supreme Court from overturning government decisions and ministerial appointments deemed “unreasonable.” 

The law’s passage could further complicate Israeli relations with the Biden administration, which has also been critical of Israel’s approval of new West Bank settlements and incendiary rhetoric from radical members of Netanyahu’s Cabinet. In a show of his disapproval, Biden waited until last week — seven months after the formation of a new Israeli government — to invite Netanyahu to meet with him in the United States. 

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