Dear President Biden:

In October 1973, the armies of Egypt and Syria launched a surprise pincer attack on Israel. While the Israeli army was running low on ammunition, your predecessor Richard Nixon ordered a massive airlift of weaponry that helped save the only Jewish democracy from being destroyed by the outside.

Fifty years later, Mr. President, this Jewish democracy urgently needs another airlift to save it from internal destruction. It needs an urgent resupply of hard truths – something only you can provide.

And what are those truths? That if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to push through a bill that will strip Israel’s Supreme Court of its most important legal authority – to check extreme appointments or decisions by Israel’s political elite – and does so without a semblance of national consensus, it will fracture Israel’s military and not only undermine shared values ​​between the United States and Israel BUT ALSO VITAL US INTERESTS.

Mr. President, when we met last Tuesday and you gave me your very measured statement urging Netanyahu not to “rush” this legislation without “the broadest possible consensus” – which he so clearly does not have – it came as an electric shock to the Israeli political system, dominating the news for several days.

It was such a shock because a vast majority of Israelis believe – rightly so – that you are a true friend and that your advice came from the heart.

But I’m afraid this Israeli government needs another dose of your tough love — not only from your heart but also from the heart of American strategic interests.

Because Netanyahu is plowing ahead despite your urgings. In spite of warning of more than 1,100 pilots and technicians of the Israeli Air Force that they will not fly for a dictatorship. Despite open a letter signed by dozens of former top security officials, including former heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad, Shin Bet and police imploring the prime minister to desist. Despite Israel’s highest business forum warning of “irreversible and destructive consequences on the Israeli economy.” Despite fears that this could eventually fracture unit cohesion in the base of the Israeli army. And despite a remarkable, largely spontaneous five-day march by everyday Israelis from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the likes of which had never happened before.

If I may suggest, Mr. President, what is needed is for your secretary of state, your secretary of defense, your secretary of the treasury, your secretary of commerce, your secretary of agriculture, your US trade representative, your attorney general, your CIA director and your Joint Chiefs to call their Israeli counterparts today and let them know that if Netanyahu goes ahead – without his consent, our military consent will not divide society between Israel and military value. countries but also does serious damage to our own strategic interests in the Middle East.

And American interests are very much our business. Because as the Knesset moves to vote on this issue on Monday, something very important could break in Israel and in our relationship with Israel. And when it’s gone, it’s never coming back.

I hope it’s not too late.

What American interests are at stake? It should be obvious to every American policymaker by now that Netanyahu’s cabinet, which you described as one of the most “extreme” you’ve ever met, has its mind set on two dismantling projects.

One is to dismantle the power of the Supreme Court to curb the extreme agenda of this government, and the other is to dismantle the Oslo peace process and its road map for a two-state solution, to pave the way for unilateralism. Israeli annexation of the West Bank. Oslo has been a cornerstone of US Middle East policy since 1993.

These twin dismantlings are interconnected: the Jewish supremacists in Netanyahu’s cabinet need to remove the Supreme Court in order to carry out their plans to annex the West Bank. Such a move could easily destabilize Jordan, as it would likely push more and more Palestinians there and change its delicate demographic balance. Jordan is the most important buffer state in the region for the US, which operates from Jordanian territory, in cooperation with Jordan, to address US security threats from Syria and western Iraq, where ISIS forces continue to operate.

At the same time, Mr. President, you are grappling with one of the biggest decisions ever involving American strategy in the Middle East: whether to comply with Saudi Arabia’s requests for a formal security guarantee from the United States, for a civilian nuclear program controlled by the United States, and for access to some of the most advanced American weapons. In return, Saudi Arabia would normalize its relations with Israel (provided that Israel makes some concessions to the Palestinians) and limit its cooperation with China.

It would be both difficult and unfortunate to get such a deal through Congress without strong support from Democrats in the Senate. As you know, Mr. President, Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are two of the least popular world leaders among progressive Democrats, especially given the way Netanyahu, over the past decade, has moved to make support for Israel a Republican cause and scorned the embrace of secular American Jews for that of Christian evangelicals instead.

In short, winning enough support among Democrats to forge this complex deal with Saudi Arabia will be a huge lift on a good day; it will be even more difficult if Netanyahu castrates the Israeli Supreme Court – undermining our shared values ​​of an independent judiciary – and moves forward with plans to annex the West Bank. And without you as president, such a deal would be nearly impossible, because very few Democrats in the Senate would support it if it were pushed by a Republican president. In short, the window for this deal is small.

By the way, in 2016 you and President Barack Obama signed 10 years old, a $38 billion deal to improve Israel’s military. Are we to simply sit and watch in silence as that military – in which we have made such a huge investment to increase our power projection in the Middle East – crumbles due to efforts to limit the power of the Israeli Supreme Court? That would be a disaster for us and for Israel, which has real enemies like Iran and Hezbollah on its doorstep.

Also, we can already see that the extreme behavior of this Israeli government in expanding settlements in the West Bank is beginning to damage the historical relations forged by President Donald Trump between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco with the Abraham Accords. All three Arab countries were forced to cool their diplomatic relations with Israel.

Mr. President, there is no institution in any democracy that cannot be improved, and that applies to the Supreme Court of Israel. There have been complaints from the center-right that the Israeli Supreme Court has shown occasional judicial overreach in the past. But between 2015 and 2019, Likud governments successfully grazed the appointments of four conservative judges to the Supreme Court — according to the current system, which Netanyahu wants to eliminate. It shows you how bogus this whole “judicial reform” thing really is.

There is a huge difference between making the Israeli Supreme Court more politically and ethnically inclusive and making this Israeli government immune to its scrutiny – especially in a system in which the high court in Israel is the only real check on executive overreach.

And the latter is what Netanyahu’s coalition is doing, and it is the latter that undermines not only our shared values ​​with Israel but also our own strategic interests, which we have the right – indeed we are required – to defend.

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