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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 
government.

   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 
affairs.

   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 
Democratic party.

 
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