US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on midterm elections
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on midterm electionsGripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters Connect

US President Joe Biden told Barak Ravid of Axios in a statement on Sunday that he is calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to move forward with the planned vote on the Reasonableness Standard Bill, which would limit the use of the judicial doctrine of reasonableness.

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 the statement.

“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.

The statement comes a day before the Knesset is expected to vote on the second and third readings of the bill.

Biden’s comments follow his conversation with Netanyahu last week. 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."

Earlier on Sunday, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog, denied reports that Biden demanded Netanyahu stop the legislation of the judicial reform during the phone conversation between the two.

"I did not hear a call from the administration during a diplomatic conversation to stop the legislation but more of a request to make an effort to reach a public consensus in Israel. They aren't really getting into the details of the legislation in Israel, and they aren't getting into the conversation with us what the limits to the reasonableness standard should be," he said.