© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (not pictured) in Rome, Italy, June 27, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. plans to work closely with Israel’s new government, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a left-leaning Jewish group in Washington on Sunday, and continues to support a two-state solution to end the decades-long conflict with Palestinians.
The U.S. administration expects “the new Israeli Government to continue to work with us to advance our shared values, just as we have previous governments,” Blinken told the nonprofit J Street liberal advocacy group. “We will gauge the government by the policies it pursues rather than individual personalities,” he said.
“Security assistance to Israel is sacrosanct,” Blinken said, noting the more than $3 billion the U.S. provides to Israel in foreign military funding.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu reached a coalition deal with the far-right Religious Zionism party, which opposes Palestinian statehood and supports extending Israeli sovereignty into the West Bank.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted in 2007 of racist incitement against Arabs and backing a group considered by Israel and the United States to be a terrorist organization, is Israel’s new security minister, with responsibility for Border Police in the occupied West Bank.
President Joe Biden remains committed to “realizing the enduring goal of two states,” Blinken said. “We believe Palestinians and Israelis, like people everywhere, are entitled to the same rights and the same opportunities.”
The U.S. “will also continue to unequivocally oppose any acts that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution,” Blinken said, including settlement expansion, moves toward annexation of the West Bank, disruption to the historic status quo at holy sites, demolitions and evictions, and incitement to violence.