Former US Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told JTA on Tuesday that the US should press Israel not to take any actions that jeopardize a two-state solution, a reference to reports that Israel could apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.
Biden also told the news agency that as president he would resume US assistance to the Palestinians, reopen the US consulate in eastern Jerusalem and would seek to reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington.
“A priority now for the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace should be resuming our dialogue with the Palestinians and pressing Israel not to take actions that make a two-state solution impossible,” Biden said in the statement.
“I will reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to re-open the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump Administration stopped,” he added.
The comments come in the wake of the coalition agreement 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.
A State Department spokesperson said last week that “we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel.”
The spokesperson also added that the US would ask Israel’s new unity government to negotiate with Palestinian Arabs.
Biden’s statement is in line with comments made last week by his senior foreign policy adviser, Tony Blinken, who said 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.
Biden’s statement was part of a series of replies to JTA on the presidential candidate’s Middle East policy. Biden has said in the past it is also incumbent on the Palestinians to preserve two-state options. A campaign spokesman noted to JTA Biden’s past calls on both sides to refrain from unilateralism.