U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday told a Washington-based group that has regularly advocated against Israel that the U.S. and the Jewish State’s Arab neighbors should “leverage” their peaceful relations on behalf of Palestinians and that Jewish settlements in disputed territories must end.
J Street, a lobbying group that purports to promote peace between Israel and Palestinians, but is highly critical of the Jewish State, hosted Blinken at its national convention. Blinken, who claimed the Biden administration seeks to advance “normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states” without acknowledging that it was the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords that made the pacts possible, said Israel’s allies should not apply pressure.
“Israel’s growing integration and broad-based opportunities it creates – this is something that we can leverage to improve the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza,” Blinken said. “And not only by the United States, but also by the Arab states that open relations with Israel.”
Despite a disturbing raft of murders of Israelis by Palestinians this year, Blinken sought to impose a moral equivalency between the two parties.
“We’re deeply concerned that this year has seen dramatically higher levels of violence in the West Bank, perpetrated by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers,” he said.
Blinken acknowledged that the Iranian regime poses an existential threat to Israel even though the Biden administration is working to revive the Obama-era deal in which the U.S.-led west relieved sanctions on Tehran in exchange for its promise not to pursue nuclear weapons.
“The Iranian regime routinely threatens to wipe Israel off the map and continues to provide weapons to terrorists and proxies like Hizballah and Hamas that remain motivated, like Iran, by the rejection of Israel’s right to exist,” he said.
Yet Blinken insisted the best way to deal with the despotic regime was through diplomacy, claiming that the Biden administration “engaged in a meaningful diplomatic process to see if we could reach agreement for a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”
So far, he admitted, “Iran has repeatedly demonstrated that it is unwilling or unable to commit to the steps that it needs to take.”
Blinken also called for an end to the building of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, the area of Israel where most of the events of the Bible occurred, and pushed for a two-state solution.
“We will also continue to unequivocally oppose any acts that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution, including, but not limited to, settlement expansion; moves toward annexation of the West Bank,” he said.
Blinken referred to “disruption to the historic status quo at holy sites,” but failed to condemn Palestinians for their frequent riots on the Temple Mount and vandalism of Jewish holy sites, saying only that “Palestinians and Israelis do not enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, or opportunity.”
While many Palestinians live in poverty and squalor, visitors to the region know that within Ramallah and Gaza, as well as Arab areas of Judea and Samaria, some Palestinians occupy lavish homes. Many critics blame a corrupt system of distributing the billions of dollars in foreign aid that the U.S. and other nations dole out to the Palestinian leaders every year.