Blinken vows US support for Israel despite unease over govt

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Sunday that the United States may withdraw its continued support for Israel despite a sharp disagreement with Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns from the Biden administration about potential members of his new right-wing government. .

Speaking to a group of leftists accused by some on the right of sympathizing with the Palestinians and Iran, Blinken said the United States would remain a staunch friend of Israel even as it pursues goals opposed by Netanyahu, including the creation of two states. . The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

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

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

But Blinken also warned that the U.S. will oppose policies that marginalize the Palestinians or make a two-state solution more difficult and harm Israel’s long-term security or future as a Jewish democratic state.

“We expect the new Israeli government to work with us to advance our shared values. We will engage the government not on the basis of individual personalities, but on its policies.”

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US authorities have expressed concern about the possible positions of at least two right-wing Israeli politicians: Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in Netanyahu’s government.

Ben-Gvir, a lawmaker known for his extremism and anti-Arab incitement, has been nominated for the post of national security minister, a powerful post that would put him in charge of Israel’s police force. Meanwhile, Smotrich, the leader of a religious Zionist party with anti-Palestinian and anti-gay views, has been offered oversight of Israel’s agency for Palestinian civil affairs.

Blinken noted that U.S.-Israeli relations are seven decades old and that the Biden administration will “have a fair conversation” with the new Israeli government as well as with the Palestinians, whose leaders, he said, must also avoid rising tensions that threaten a two-state solution. , refrain.

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He noted that the Biden administration continues to support the recognition of its predecessor as the capital of Israel and is trying to expand the “Abraham agreements” of former President Donald Trump, which will allow several Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel. He praised the conclusion of the maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon.

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

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