Blinken meets Netanyahu
'Biden wants to rebuild relationship with the Palestinians'

US Secretary of State meets with Israeli Prime Minister in Jerusalem on first day of Middle East visit.

David Rosenberg , | updated: 12:36 PM

נתניהו ובלינקן בירושלים
נתניהו ובלינקן בירושלים
מתי שטרן, שגרירות ארה"ב בישראל

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Tuesday morning, as Blinken began his three-day visit to the Middle East.

In a joint press statement with Blinken, Netanyahu thanked President Joe Biden and Blinken for “firmly supporting Israel’s right of self-defense.”

“I have to say that Secretary Blinken, in a previous capacity, in 2014 when we had another round of engagement against Hamas aggression, supported us by having Iron Dome replacements of a quarter of a billion dollars, which you personally shepherded through the system very quickly. And we remember it and we are very grateful.”

“Now you’re doing that again, giving replenishments of our Iron Dome interceptors, which saved civilian lives on both sides.”

“We, too, will give meaning to our self-defense if Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel. Our response will be very powerful."

In their closed-door meeting prior to the press conference, the Prime Minister and Secretary of State discussed the Iranian threat, Netanyahu said, expressing hope that the US “will not go back to the old JCPOA,” referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, “because we believe that that deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy.”

“We also reiterated that no matter what happens, Israel will always reserve the right to defend itself from a regime committed to our destruction, committed to getting the weapons of mass destruction to that end.”

Turning to the Abraham Accords, Netanyahu called to expand the number of Arab and Muslim countries with normalized ties to Israel, and to “deepen” the existing peace treaties signed last year.

“We discussed, also, how to improve the lives and conditions of the Palestinians, the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, including the question of our return of our MIAs and two civilians who are there, as well as building economic growth for Judea and Samaria – the West Bank – with international cooperation and participation.”

“As for a formal peace with the Palestinians, I think President Biden was absolutely correct when he said that ‘You’re not going to get peace until Israel is recognized as an independent Jewish state.’ I couldn’t agree more.”

Following Netanyahu’s comments, Blinken laid out the goals for his trip to the Middle East, listing the Biden administration’s desire both to show its commitment to Israel’s security and to “rebuild our relationship” with the Palestinian Authority.

“President Biden asked me to come here today really for four reasons.”

“First, to demonstrate America’s commitment to Israel’s security; to start to work towards greater stability and reduce tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem; to support urgent humanitarian assistance for Gaza to benefit the Palestinian people; and to continue to rebuild our relationship with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority.”

“Intense behind-the-scenes diplomacy by President Biden, working very closely with the Prime Minister, led to the ceasefire. Now we must build on it. That starts with the recognition that losses on both sides were profound. Causalities are often reduced to numbers, but every number is an individual human being – a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a best friend. As the Talmud teaches, to lose a life is to lose the whole world, whether that life is Palestinian or Israeli.”

“The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks such as the thousands of rockets fired by Hamas indiscriminately against civilians.”

Blinken said one of the key matters he discussed with Netanyahu is “tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild.”

“The United States will rally international support around that effort, while also making our own significant contributions.”

“We will work with our partners to work to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from the reconstruction assistance. At the same time, we need to work to expand opportunity for Palestinians in Gaza and the in the West Bank, including by expanding the private sector and trade and investment and other means.”

Blinken also alluded to the wave of Arab riots and attacks on Jews inside of Israel earlier this month, saying he discussed with Netanyahu the “intercommunal violence which erupted in Israel during the conflict.”

“Healing these wounds will take leadership at every level of society, from elected officials to community leaders to neighbors.”

“In our own country, the United States, we witnessed a shocking eruption of anti-Semitic attacks. As President Biden said yesterday, they are despicable and they must stop.”

Blinken landed in Israel at just before 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White) on the tarmac of Ben Gurion International Airport.

Along with Netanyahu and Ashkenazi, Blinken is set to meet with President Reuven Rivlin and other senior Israeli officials.

His trip will also take Blinken to Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman. Blinken is slated to meet with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and premier Mohammad Shtayyeh. Blinken will also meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

On Monday, President Joe Biden instructed Blinken to head to the region to ensure the transfer of aid to the Gaza Strip, and to 'solidify' the ceasefire.

"I have asked SecState Blinken to travel to the Middle East this week," Biden tweeted. "He will coordinate international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there & not Hamas, and on reducing the risk of further conflict in the coming months."

Later on Monday, Blinken said that his upcoming trip would focus on talks with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Jordan aimed at ending "the hostilities and reduc[ing] tensions."

"At the request of President Biden, I am traveling to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman to meet with the parties to support their efforts to solidify a ceasefire. The United States has engaged in intensive diplomacy to bring an end to the hostilities and reduce tensions."

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to visit Israel this week, Politico reported Monday.

youtube:2094739



top