Blinken Vows US Support for Israel 12/05 06:18
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. will not shrink from
its unwavering support for Israel despite stark differences with Prime
Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns the Biden administration may
have about potential members of his incoming right-wing government.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S.
will not shrink from its unwavering support for Israel despite stark
differences with Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns the Biden
administration may have about potential members of his incoming right-wing
Speaking to a left-leaning group that some on the right accuse of being too
sympathetic to the Palestinians and Iran, Blinken said the United States will
remain a stalwart friend of Israel even as it pursues goals that Netanyahu has
opposed, including a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
and a restoration of the languishing 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The U.S.-Israel "partnership -- and all that it's produced for the people of
our nations and the world -- has always been underwritten by the United States
ironclad commitment to Israel's security, a commitment that has never been
stronger than it is today," he said.
Blinken said the Biden administration would engage with Netanyahu's
government based on its policies and not on personalities, including potential
senior Cabinet ministers who have expressed vehement anti-Palestinian and
anti-Arab views in the past.
But, Blinken also warned that the U.S. would object to policies that
marginalize the Palestinians, diminish their "horizon for hope," or make a
two-state resolution more difficult. He said those would be detrimental to
Israel's long-term security or future as a Jewish democratic state.
"We expect the new Israeli government to continue to work with us to advance
our shared values, just as we have previous governments," he said.
"We will gauge the government by the policies it pursues rather than
individual personalities. We will hold it to the mutual standards we have
established in our relationship over the past seven decades," Blinken said.
U.S. officials have previously expressed concerns about the possible
positions in Netanyahu's government of at least two right-wing Israeli
politicians: Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.
Ben-Gvir, a lawmaker known for anti-Arab vitriol and provocative stunts, has
been offered the job of national security minister, a powerful position that
will put him in charge of Israel's police force. Meanwhile, Smotrich, leader of
the Religious Zionism party, which shares anti-Palestinian and anti-gay views,
has been offered oversight over the Israeli agency for Palestinian civil
Blinken noted that the U.S.-Israel relationship is seven decades old and the
Biden administration would "speak honestly" with the new Israeli government as
well as the Palestinians, whose leaders he said must also refrain from raising
tensions that endanger a two-state solution.
He pointed out that 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" that saw several Arab
nations normalize relations with Israel. He lauded the recent completion of a
maritime border accord between Israel and Lebanon.
Blinken's comments came at the annual conference of J Street, a pro-Israel
group that has distinguished itself from the much larger and older American
Israel Public Affairs Committee by advancing positions often supported by the