In a recent address to an American Jewish civil society organization, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the strength of the United States-Israel partnership and underscored that U.S. security assistance to Israel is “sacrosanct.”
That assistance consists not only of providing foreign military financing to Israel and funding for missile defense. It also consists of reinforcing Israel’s security through diplomacy, including through support for the deepening diplomatic relations between Israel and its neighbors and with countries around the world.
“That’s why we’ve worked relentlessly to advance and expand the Abraham Accords and other normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states,” said Secretary Blinken. He also pointed to U.S. mediation efforts leading to the historic October agreement to establish a permanent maritime boundary between Israel and Lebanon, and to the July summit attended by the leaders of India, Israel, the UAE, and the United States which focused on marshalling the strengths of government, civil society, and the private sector.
For all its benefits, however, normalization between Israel and its neighbors is no substitute for building peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Blinken said. Progress must be made toward the enduring goal of two states living side by side in peace. Any acts that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution must be opposed, including inciting or countenancing violence against civilians; settlement expansion; moves toward annexation of the West Bank; and disruption to the historic status quo at holy sites.
“The reality,” Secretary Blinken said, “is that today Palestinians and Israelis do not enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, or opportunity.” He noted the Biden-Harris administration has re-engaged with the Palestinian people, including by providing more than $890 million in assistance.
“We’ve encouraged the Israeli Government to make policy reforms that improve the lives of Palestinians in material ways,” Secretary Blinken noted. Additionally he said, “The Palestinian Authority must carry out meaningful reforms, as the frustrations of the Palestinian people are also driven by a lack of governance and corruption.”
While many people are disillusioned and frustrated by the decades-long attempt to reach a two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians, “We cannot give up hope,” declared Secretary Blinken. “It’s precisely when times are difficult…that we’ve simply got to work harder, that we must continue to pursue whatever opening we can to show that progress is still possible.”