Jerusalem must be a city for Israelis AND Palestinians, Blinken tells J Street conference

“We are deeply concerned that this year has seen dramatically higher levels of violence in the West Bank, perpetrated by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers,” Blinken stated.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Addressing the J Street national conference in Washington Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has “been engaged with it in one way or another for over 20 years,” said he would address “how our administration is working to advance the shared interests and values at the heart of the U.S.-Israeli relationship in what is a very consequential time.”

The Biden administration would do so, he said, “by strengthening Israel’s security, recognizing that no peace is possible or sustainable without a strong, secure Israel; deepening Israel integration in Israel and in the world, holding firm to the vision of two states for two peoples; opposing acts that diminish the long-term prospects of achieving that goal; and taking immediate steps to improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The U.S.-Israel relationship, since the founding of the Jewish state nearly 75 years ago, has affected American and Israeli lives, he said, citing “renewable energy and biotech, vaccine research and space exploration, higher education and the arts.

“That 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.”

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The secretary said the U.S. would continue to oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, the unfair treatment of Israel at the UN and the rising antisemitism.

However, “for all of its benefits,”normalization between Israell and its neighbors is not a substitute for building peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he stated.

Furthermore, “We are deeply concerned that this year has seen dramatically higher levels of violence in the West Bank, perpetrated by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers.

“This violence must stop. “Its perpetrators must face equal justice under the law.

“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 the annexation of the West Bank; disruption to the historic status quo at holy sites; demolitions and evictions; and incitement to violence.

“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…

“The United States 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. Anything that takes us away from two states is detrimental to Israel’s long-term security and its long-term identity.”

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US will judge Israeli gov’t by policies, not personalities

Regarding the recent Israeli national election, the American top diplomat said that “we fully respect the democratic choice of the Israeli people; we again congratulate Bibi Netanyahu. We welcome his commitment to make this government that, in his words, “will work for the benefit of all residents of the State of Israel, without exception.

“As President Biden told Netanyahu when he called to congratulate him,” Blinken continued, “we expect the new Israeli government to work with us to advance our shared values, just as we have [with] previous governments.

“We’ll continue to express our support for core democratic principles, including respect for the rights of the LGBT community and the equal administration of justice for all citizens of Israel,” he stated, to enthusiastic applause.

“We will gauge the government by the policies it pursues rather than individual personalities,” he said, seemingly referring to controversial right-wing coalition members including Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Avi Moaz.

As for talks to renew the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. “engaged in a meaningful diplomatic process to see if we 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.

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“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.”