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NYC Mayor Eric Adams, refusing to pick a side, says Netanyahu and protesters both ‘love Israel’

Adams spoke to Jewish leaders ahead of the High Holidays and following Israel trip

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, back from his trip to Israel, praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have protested his government over its judicial overhaul. Both sides, he remarked in a pre-High Holiday speech to some 60 Jewish leaders at the Jewish Federation of New York, care deeply about the future of Israel. 

“Disagree or agree with them, you clearly understand that they love Israel,” Adams said of the anti-Netanyahu protesters he met on his three-day trip to the Jewish state, from which he returned on Aug. 24.

Adams is the most influential U.S. official to date to engage directly with the protest movement in Israel. He said he was moved by protesters’ patriotism. “And that same emotion came over me when I walked out of the room with the prime minister,” he continued. “One can say what they want, but if you look at the history of this relationship with Israel, he loves Israel.”

Not taking sides 

In a briefing with reporters after his meetings in Israel, Adams said he didn’t take a side in the debate over the judicial overhaul plan, but listened to fans and foes alike. In his remarks on Tuesday, Adams described the turmoil in Israel as an internal dispute and a “hallmark of democracy.”

Some Republicans have criticized President Joe Biden for intervening in Israeli domestic affairs when he pressed Netanyahu earlier this summer to negotiate with the protesters. Netanyahu faced fierce criticism from American Jewish leaders for refusing to engage in meaningful negotiations to reach broad consensus on a package of judicial overhaul measures that would weaken the independence of the Israeli Supreme Court.

Netanyahu will visit New York next week to address the United Nations General Assembly. Leaders of the protest movement has said they will seek to disrupt the visit.

Adams visited Israel last month, his debut trip as mayor, where he met with Israeli leadership and local authorities to discuss economic ties between New York and Israel and public safety. 

“We are all dependent on the survival of Israel,” Adams said, “because connected to the survival of Israel is the future of how are we going to survive some of the major challenges that we’re facing across the globe.”

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