US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he hoped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would reconsider proposed judiciary changes that have fuelled massive protests in his country.
“Like many strong supporters of Israel, I'm very concerned," Mr Biden told reporters. "They cannot continue down this road."
It is the first time the President has publicly spoken about the US ally's largest national crisis in years.
His plan has caused some of the largest protests in Israel's history, with critics saying the plan would limit Supreme Court powers and harm the country's democracy.
"I hope he walks away from it," Mr Biden said.
Asked if the Israeli leader would be invited to the White House, he replied: "No. Not in the near term."
The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, told Israeli Army Radio earlier on Tuesday that Mr Netanyahu could receive an invitation to Washington some time after the Jewish festival of Passover, which begins in the first week of April.
It could make Mr Biden's remarks a major development in US-Israeli relations.
"I have known President Biden for over 40 years and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel," Mr Netanyahu said in a tweet shortly after.
"The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us."
Mr Biden had already expressed his concerns over the proposed reforms in a call with Mr Netanyahu, the White House said on Monday.
Mr Netanyahu said in another tweet that his far-right government is "committed to strengthening democracy by restoring the proper balance between the three branches of government, which we are striving to achieve via a broad consensus".
"Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends," he said.z
Mr Netanyahu is still scheduled to virtually appear at the Summit for Democracy being held by the US this week.