Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday discussed with UAE Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan ways to strengthen US-UAE cooperation on multiple issues, including the Negev Forum, which is aimed at advancing collaboration between Israel, the UAE and other regional partners on issues such as sustainable energy, food and water security and defense, according to State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.
Blinken and bin Zayed also talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including "the need for Israelis and Palestinians to urgently take steps to prevent further escalation of violence and restore calm."
Additionally, they discussed the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria that killed over 41,000 people.
Finally, Blinken reiterated the United States' support for Ukraine amid Russia's invasion of the country and thanked bin Zayed for the UAE's humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
At a press conference earlier in the day, Price said that Blinken and bin Zayed were expected to "discuss tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, steps that the international community can take to support the parties as they seek – we hope and we are encouraging them – to de-escalate the situation."
Reporter raises concerns over anti-Israel candidate
At the conference, a reporter asked about the candidacy of a professor who called Israel an apartheid state and said that Rep. Hakim Jeffries was "bought" by the "pro-Israel lobby" to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
"On Friday you announced the candidacy of Professor James Cavallaro to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights," the reporter said. "Professor Cavallaro’s made some pretty extraordinary statements about U.S. elected officials, the Biden – President Biden, then a candidate – and about Israel, including that Israel is an apartheid state, that Hakeem Jeffries was bought, purchased, and controlled by the pro-Israel lobby. He wrote of then-Candidate Biden that he’s a senile gaffe machine. Did you know about these tweets when you announced his candidacy?"
"Let me make a point that should be obvious, but it’s worth making nonetheless," Price replied. "His statements clearly do not reflect US policy. They are not a reflection of what we believe, and they are inappropriate to say the least. We have decided to withdraw our nomination of this individual from – to withdraw his nomination to serve on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. And I think, judging by some of the statements that have since been uncovered, it is fair to conclude – it, in fact, is true – that we were not aware of the statements and writings that you’ve produced."