Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenREUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday published an op-ed in The Washington Post in which he urged members of Congress to support the budget for defense aid to Israel.

In the column, Blinken said that the US should not have to choose between defending Israel and aiding Palestinian Arabs, but should do both things.

“From the moment Hamas slaughtered more than 1,400 people in Israel, including at least 35 US citizens, and took more than 230 hostages, President Biden has consistently affirmed Israel’s right — indeed, its obligation — to defend itself and prevent Hamas from carrying out such an attack ever again,” he wrote.

“The president has made clear that the United States will ensure Israel has what it needs to defend its people against all threats, including from Iran and its proxy groups. The security assistance in our supplemental request will allow us to deliver on that commitment,” added Blinken, who also stressed the importance of protecting the lives of Palestinian Arab civilians during the fighting.

“That means the flow of food, water, medicine, fuel and other essential humanitarian aid into Gaza must increase — immediately and significantly. It means Palestinian civilians must be able to stay out of harm’s way. It means every possible precaution must be taken to safeguard humanitarian sites. And it means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes,” he wrote.

Noting the challenges of doing this “when confronting an enemy that cynically and monstrously uses civilians as human shields and launches rockets from hospitals, schools and residential buildings”, Blinken added that “preventing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is vital to Israel’s security.”

“We don’t have to choose between defending Israel and aiding Palestinian civilians. We can and must do both. That is the only way to stand firmly by one of our closest allies, protect innocent lives, uphold the international rules of the road that ultimately benefit the American people, and preserve the sole viable path to lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians: two states for two peoples,” wrote the Secretary of State.

“Any member of Congress who cares about Israel’s enduring security — or America’s, for that matter — should support both defense and humanitarian assistance to address this conflict,” he concluded.

Blinken is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Friday, for his second visit to the area since the war with Hamas began.