President Joe Biden
President Joe BidenGripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters Connect

The United States on Monday expressed disappointment over the fact that the first phase of the judicial reform passed in the Knesset without a broad consensus.

“As a lifelong friend of Israel, President Biden has publicly and privately expressed his views that major changes in a democracy to be enduring must have as broad a consensus as possible. It is unfortunate that the vote today took place with the slimmest possible majority,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement.

“We understand talks are ongoing and likely to continue over the coming weeks and months to forge a broader compromise even with the Knesset in recess. The United States will continue to support the efforts of President Herzog and other Israeli leaders as they seek to build a broader consensus through political dialogue,” she added.

The statement followed approval in the Knesset of changes to the reasonableness standard, with the bill passing with a majority of 64 Knesset members.

On Sunday, before the vote in the Knesset, Biden called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to move forward with the planned vote.

From the perspective of Israel’s friends in the United States, “it looks like the current judicial reform proposal is becoming more divisive, not less," Biden said in a statement to Axios’ Barak Ravid.

“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," the President added.

Last week, Biden held a telephone conversation with Netanyahu. After that conversation, senior analyst Thomas Friedman published an opinion article in The New York Times, in which he wrote that Biden implored Netanyahu not to advance the legislation of the judicial reform without even the semblance of a national consensus.

According to Friedman, he was invited by the President to the Oval Office to "make sure that Biden’s position is crystal clear to all Israelis."

On Thursday, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby spoke to Israel's Channel 12 News and asked about Friedman’s column.

Kirby stated that Biden has a longstanding relationship with Friedman and that the President "thought it was important to sit down and share his views with Tom about where things are going and the conversations that he has had."

He confirmed that Friedman's column was accurate. "Tom wrote a very contextual and yes, accurate reflection in his column of his conversation with President Biden. But more critically, a contextual and accurate reflection of President Biden's views and his concerns."

Kirby refused to answer whether Friedman's assertion that Biden had asked Netanyahu to stop the judicial reform legislation altogether is accurate, though he added that the column was an accurate reflection of "where the President's head is."