on the hill

Manning expresses ‘concerns’ about judicial reform, Israeli government action in West Bank

The former Jewish Federations chair also said Israel’s ‘far-right government’ is creating ‘hurdles’ to a two-state solution

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) speaks during a press conference on new legislation to support Holocaust education nationwide at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 27, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a stalwart defender of Israel in Congress and a former senior official in the Jewish communal world, said on Tuesday that she is worried about the judicial overhaul legislation passed in Israel on Monday and cautioned that the “far-right” Israeli government is undermining prospects for an eventual two-state solution.

“I have had discussions with some of my colleagues, and there is concern,” Manning said during a virtual event with the Jewish Federations of North America. “It’s important for any of these kinds of changes to be built on consensus and on compromise,” she continued, a sentiment she said was shared by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, President Joe Biden and fellow members of Congress.

Manning said that she has not yet had a chance to connect with many fellow lawmakers since the legislation passed, but that she and her colleagues plan to discuss “trying to encourage” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to take a pause, to try to build more consensus before things move forward” any further.

The former JFNA chair also raised concerns that Israel’s government is undermining the prospects for peace in the future.

“There are also concerns about what this far-right government is doing, hurdles that they are creating to… a two-state solution down the road,” Manning said. “Any discussion about what’s going on in Israel should not only include what’s happening with the judicial reforms but also what’s happening in the West Bank — and that also is being pushed by the far-right wing of the current Israeli government.”

In recent months, Manning has refrained from weighing in publicly, telling Jewish Insider that she preferred to keep such “tough conversations” with allies behind closed doors and had urged the administration to do the same. She made her first public comments on the issue in March, after Netanyahu said he would pause the legislative process pending negotiations brokered by Herzog.

“I had been assured that there were enormous efforts to build a compromise… and not to push things forward,” Manning said Tuesday. “What we saw yesterday was that the idea of building consensus and moving slowly was cut short,” she continued, referring to the passage of a bill that strips the Supreme Court of its ability to overturn legislation it deemed “unreasonable.”

At the same time, Manning emphasized the enduring U.S.-Israel relationship, highlighting the strong bipartisan support for Herzog’s recent speech to Congress.

“It was a beautiful speech,” she said. “It was, for me personally, one of those moments in Congress that you can never imagine that you will have the opportunity to be a part of.”

Manning also acknowledged that the U.S. is facing some of the same issues of “divisiveness” as Israel and challenges with its own Supreme Court, which “many of us believe is highly politicized.”

She added that the ongoing protests highlight the strength of Israel’s “thriving democracy.”

Also on Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in a call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, reiterated the administration’s message that “broad consensus through political dialogue… are critical elements of a resilient democracy.”

Austin also expressed an “urgent need” for Israeli and Palestinian actions to stabilize the West Bank and pressed Gallant to “address extremist settler violence against Palestinian civilians.”

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