Sunday, February 5, 2023

Blinken pledges US support for Israel despite concerns over government

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States would not end its unwavering support for Israel, despite sharp differences with Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns about the Biden administration’s potential members of its next right-wing government.

Speaking to a left-wing group accused by some on the right of being too sympathetic to the Palestinians and Iran, Blinken said that the United States would remain a staunch friend of Israel, even as it pursues goals that Netanyahu has protested, including a two-state system. , the resolution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the reinstatement of the languishing Iran nuclear deal of 2015.

The association, he said, “has never been stronger than it is today.”

Blinken said the Biden administration would work with the Netanyahu government based on its policies, not personalities, including potentially senior cabinet ministers who have expressed anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab views in the past.

But Blinken also warned that the US would oppose policies that marginalize Palestinians or make a two-state resolution difficult and would be harmful to Israel’s long-term security or future as a democratic Jewish state.

“We hope that the new Israeli government will continue to work with us to promote our shared values,” he added. “We will settle for government policies rather than individual personalities.”

US officials have raised concerns about possible indictments of at least two right-wing Israeli politicians in Netanyahu’s government: Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

Ben-Gvir, a lawmaker known for his anti-Arab criticism and provocative antics, has been offered the job of minister of national security, a powerful position that would put him in charge of Israel’s police force. Meanwhile, Smotrich, head of a religious Zionist party that shares anti-Palestinian and anti-gay views, has been offered to oversee Israel’s Agency for Palestinian Civil Affairs.

Blinken said the US-Israel relationship dates back seven decades and that a Biden administration would “talk honestly” with the new Israeli government and the Palestinians, whose leaders said they should avoid tensions that would jeopardize a peace deal. states.

He said the Biden administration continues to support its predecessor’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and is working to expand former President Donald Trump’s “Abraham Accords,” which allowed several Arab countries to recognize Israel as their capital. saw normalization of relations with He praised the recent completion of a maritime boundary agreement between Israel and Lebanon.

Blinken’s comments came at the annual convention of J Street, a pro-Israel group that has distanced itself from the much larger and older American-Israel Public Affairs Committee by promoting positions supported by the Democratic Party.

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