Alongside Netanyahu, in apparent allusion to judical overhaul, Blinken stresses ‘rights of people to make their voices heard’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in Jerusalem on January 30, 2023. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Pool/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in Jerusalem on January 30, 2023. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Pool/AFP)

Speaking alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after their one-on-one meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at length about the “shared interests and shared values” at the foundation of the US-Israel relationship.

Blinken rattles off a list of key democratic values, including minority rights, the rule of law, a free press, an active civil society, and “rights of people to make their voices heard.”

“The vibrancy of Israel’s civil society has been on full display of late,” he says, in an apparent reference to demonstrations against the coalition’s judicial overhaul plans.

“The commitment of people in both our countries to make their voices heard, to defend their rights, is one of the unique strengths of our democracies,” he says. “Another is a recognition that building consensus for new proposals is the most effective way to ensure they’re embraced, and that they endure.”

The top US diplomat says the two countries must hold themselves “to the mutual standards we’ve established.”

He and Netanyahu had “a frank conversation” about these issues, he says.

Blinken also points out in his remarks that expanding the Abraham Accords is “not a substitute for Israel-Palestinian peace.”

He says the best way of ensuring “equal measures” of freedom, security, opportunity, security, justice and dignity “is through preserving and then realizing the vision of two states.”

US officials usually do not speak of “preserving” the two-state solution. The term is likely a reflection of nervousness about Israeli actions that in their eyes undermine the long-term possibility of such a reality.

Blinken also goes out of his way to mention US support for “religious coexistence” in Jerusalem, and “upholding the status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif.”

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