Tony Blinken, the senior foreign policy adviser for former US Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, on Tuesday commented on a possible move by Israel to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
The issue is on the table in the wake of the agreement on a unity government between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, which states that the government could apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria this coming July.
Speaking on a webcast hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America and quoted by the Jewish Insider, Blinken said that he was “not going to prejudge what we might do or not do in the context of a Biden administration because “lots of things can happen between now and then.”
He stressed, however, that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee “has been literally opposed to annexation,” noting that Biden has been “on the record several times [that] unilateral steps taken by either side that makes the prospect of a negotiated to a two-state outcome less likely is something he opposes, and that includes annexation.”
Blinken, who served in the Obama administration as a national security official and deputy Secretary of State, emphasized that the focus of a Biden administration would be to revive and “ultimately advance” the prospects of “two states for two people,” calling such it “the only way to really assure” that Israel remains secure, democratic and Jewish, while moving ahead with unilateral annexation “is bad” for Israel.
“In many ways, pulling the plug on a two-state solution is pulling the plug, potentially, on an Israel that is not only secure but is Jewish and democratic — for the future,” he added. “That’s not something any of us, who are ardent supporters of Israel, would want to see. And that’s why it is so vital that we try to find ways to get back to a place where in the first instance steps are not being taken that make what is already incredibly difficult virtually impossible, and ultimately some new foundation is built upon which we can actually build toward two states — not minimizing how incredibly difficult that would be.”
On the issue of the US embassy in Israel, Blinken suggested that a Biden administration would keep the US embassy in Jerusalem, telling viewers that reversing President Donald Trump’s decision and moving the US Embassy back to Tel Aviv “would not make sense practically and politically.”
Also taking part in the conference call was Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), who expressed hope on Tuesday that Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi will use their newfound political leverage to block a move to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
“My hope would be that Ashkenazi as foreign minister and Gantz as defense minister — in what will be internal deliberations — given their deep experience in the IDF and given the security consequences of an abrupt move, would caution Bibi against some significant step like this,” said Coons.
Coons, who spoke from Iowa as a surrogate for the Biden campaign, declined to elaborate on how a Biden administration would address annexation. “
It’s hard to exactly prejudge the circumstances on the ground as of January of next year, and we only have one president at a time,” he asserted.