WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will gauge the incoming Israeli government “by the policies it pursues rather than individual personalities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“Israel recently held free and fair elections with robust participation and the new government is expected to take office in the coming days,” Blinken said at the National J Street Conference in Washington on Sunday.
“We fully respect the democratic choice of the Israeli people. We again congratulate [Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu. We welcome his commitment to make this a government that, in his words, ‘will work for the benefit of all residents of the state of Israel without exception.’
“As President [Joe] Biden told Mr. Netanyahu when he called to congratulate him, we expect the new Israeli government to continue to work with us to advance our shared values,” Blinken continued.
Just as the US has with previous governments, it will continue to express its support for core democratic principles, including respect for the rights of the LGBTQ community and the equal administration of justice for all citizens of Israel.
“We will gauge the government by the policies it pursues rather than individual personalities,” he said. “We will hold it to the mutual standards we’ve established in our relationship over the past seven decades and we will speak honestly and respectfully with our Israeli friends as partners always should.”
Speaking about the escalating tensions in the West Bank, the secretary of state said the violence, perpetrated by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers, must stop.
“Its perpetrators must face equal justice under the law,” he said. “We will also continue to unequivocally oppose any acts that undermine the prospects of the two-state solution, including but not limited to settlement expansion; move towards annexation of the West Bank; disruption to the historic[al] status quo at holy sites; demolitions and evictions; and incitement to violence.”
Blinken praised the Abraham Accords and said one of the most effective ways to bolster Israel’s security is to deepen diplomatic relations with more of its neighbors and with countries around the world.
“We work relentlessly to advance and expand the Abraham Accords and other normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states.”
He also added, however, that “for all of its benefits, normalization between Israel and its neighbors is not the substitute for building peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
He also said Biden “remains committed” to the two-state solution.
“We continue to believe, as the president said on the trip to the Holy Land this summer, that two states based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps remains the best way to achieve our goal of Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security,” said Blinken. “And of course, it’s vital to preserving Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”
The US continues to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as the president also said in his visit. Jerusalem is central to the national visions of both Palestinians and Israelis, and must be a city for all of its people, Blinken said.
“Anything that takes us away from two states is detrimental to Israel’s long-term security and its long-term identity.”
He also said the administration has engaged in a meaningful diplomatic process to see if it could reach an agreement for a mutual return to the JCPOA.
“But Iran has repeatedly demonstrated that it is unwilling or unable to commit to the steps that it needs to take,” he said. “We continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but should the Iranian regime reject that path, its leaders should make no mistake that all options are on the table to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.”
Blinken said the administration continues to reject the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for unfairly singling out Israel.
“At the United Nations, we have consistently and vigorously pushed back against unjust anti-Israel bias reflected in enduring efforts to delegitimize and exclude Israel and the disproportionate attention Israel continues to receive in places like the Security Council and the Human Rights Council,” he said. “This unfair treatment not only distracts the UN from focusing on other challenges, but deprives Israel the chance to participate in bodies where it could make valuable contributions to improving the lives of people around the world.”