The White House Should Not Host Netanyahu While His Government Still Works Against Israel’s Democracy

March 28, 2023

Visits by Prime Ministers of Israel to the White House are an important symbol of the close relationship between our two countries. They are meant to help reaffirm and strengthen the foundations of that relationship, including the democratic values that both nations hold dear.

Yet today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to lead an unprecedented, ongoing attack on Israel’s democratic system of checks and balances that runs directly counter to those shared values. The brief pause in advancing one legislative piece of this assault related to the judiciary does not remove the existential threat to Israel’s democracy posed by the overhaul that Netanyahu has made clear he intends to resume in the May legislative session, after the approaching holidays.

The Biden Administration should not give undue credence to the Prime Minister’s tactical delay on this legislation as proposals to drastically change the nature of Israel’s governance continue to be actively promoted by his ministers and his government.

We are therefore pleased that the White House has said that there is no imminent invitation for Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Washington, DC. It would be inappropriate and against both US and Israeli interests for the US Government to host the Prime Minister at a White House meeting unless and until his attempted judicial overhaul and other major attacks on Israel’s democracy are ended or resolved via consensus.

Additionally, Netanyahu should not be granted an official US platform to whitewash or distract from his moves against Israeli democracy by presenting virtually at this week’s White House Summit for Democracy. Rather, the administration should be making clear that it stands with the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets to protect their democracy.

We hope it is not long before the President of the United States is able to host an Israeli Prime Minister not actively engaged in a campaign to undermine Israel’s democracy and the values that underpin the critical US-Israel bilateral relationship.