Statement- APN to Biden and Congress: Challenge Herzog on Democracy and the Occupation

There could hardly be a greater disconnect between tomorrow’s US Congressional salute to Israel and its democracy, and the anti-democratic campaign that Israel’s government is ramming through the Knesset. While the US government in Washington is embracing Israel’s ceremonial head of state, President Isaac Herzog, Israel’s political head of state, Benjamin Netanyahu, is systematically working to wreck the very values of democracy, equality, justice and peace that Washington wishes to see and respect in Israel.

President Herzog, aware of this discordance, told President Biden in the White House today that “Israeli democracy is sound and resilient” and that the heated internal Israeli debate over the so-called legal reform is testament to that resilience. But Herzog knows how endangered Israeli democracy is as the government of Israel works to gut it by denying it basic judicial checks on the already vast powers of the executive branch.

Furthermore, both Presidents Herzog and Biden know that Israel cannot and will not be a true democracy as long as it continues occupying the West Bank and ruling over millions of Palestinians who lack national sovereign rights and human rights.

Americans for Peace Now’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind said: “President Biden and other leading Democrats have spoken about their concerns regarding Israel’s character as a democracy. Israel’s democracy is indeed important and worth fighting for. But the administration and Congress need to  see past Herzog’s ‘shared values’ platitudes and address the issues of settlement expansion, settler violence, and creeping annexation.

“What Israel needs from its friends in Washington is not more enabling, but rather a reality check, an intervention, which would clearly define what the US is and is not willing to accept from a state that wishes to continue enjoying a values-based ‘special relationship’ with America. The red lines should be clear and so should the consequences if they are crossed.”