Rep. Brad Schneider
Rep. Brad SchneiderReuters

More than a dozen Jewish House Democrats on Thursday called on the Israeli government to suspend its plans to pass the judicial reform, The Hill reported.

The House lawmakers sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and opposition leader Yair Lapid in an extraordinary expression of concern by US government officials over a foreign, domestic political matter.

The House letter, led by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and signed by 14 other Jewish Democrats, call for “compromise” on a judicial “overhaul” that they say “could fundamentally alter the democratic character of the State of Israel.”

“The overhaul being proposed that passed on first reading appears to imbue the Knesset with supreme power, unchecked by the Supreme Court,” the lawmakers wrote, according to The Hill.

“If carried out to their fullest extent, these changes could fundamentally alter the democratic character of the State of Israel. A tenet of modern democracies is protections for those citizens with minority status, whether political, ethnic, or religious. We are deeply concerned about the impact these changes would have on people and groups not in the majority, including Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and Reconstructionist Jewish populations in Israel,” they added.

The lawmakers said that “it is neither our intention, nor our purpose, to prescribe how Israel should refine or reform its system of government,” but said they are committed to the enduring US-Israel relationship and “feel it is both appropriate and necessary for us to share our concerns about the possible, even likely, potential impacts of the changes currently being debated in the Knesset.”

The lawmakers further called for Netanyahu and Lapid to embrace compromise offers being proposed by Herzog.

“As members of the Jewish diaspora and friends of Israel, we are heartened by President Herzog’s calls for compromise, and we call on the government to suspend its efforts to pass the bills,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We urge all parties to come together to fully consider the potential implications of the changes being debated in the Knesset and to negotiate fairly and openly so that a broadly acceptable resolution can be reached and Israel can continue to be the flourishing beacon of democracy we have long admired,” the letter concluded.

The Democrats have been vocal about their opposition to the judicial reform.

President Joe Biden also weighed in on the judicial reform, in a statement he sent to Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

“The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary,” Biden wrote.

“Building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them so they can be sustained,” the President added.

Vice President Kamala Harris later commented on the judicial reform as well, telling Politico, “As the president has said, an independent judiciary is foundational for a democracy. And I think that there is no question that we need to make sure that that is supported in terms of what we talk about [and] in terms of our values.”

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, meanwhile, recently called on Israeli leaders to “pump the brakes” on the judicial reform.

On the other side, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Axios in an interview last week that the Israeli government’s judicial reform is an internal Israeli matter and the US should not intervene.

"This is something the citizens of Israel are going to have to sort out for themselves without any American influence. … It isn’t any of my business to give Israelis advice about how to sort this out," he added.