US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to Channel 12 news in an interview recorded last night.
The conversation covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iran nuclear deal, and the rise in antisemitism in the US.
Blinken says he considers a two-state solution as representing probably the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a secure Jewish and democratic state. And he indicates that the US will return to the 2015 JCPOA deal if Iran comes back into compliance, but that it’s not clear if Iran intends to do so.
On the ceasefire in Gaza, as well as civilian casualties, Blinken says: “We do have to try to break this cycle of violence. Because if we don’t it will repeat itself — maybe it’s next month, maybe it’s next year, maybe it’s in five years… Ultimately what that really comes down to is, at least in our judgment, doing everything possible to make sure that Israelis and Palestinians alike have in their lives equal measures of security, of opportunity, of dignity.”
He adds: “We’re committed to Israel’s security, period. We will make sure Israel has the means to defend itself. Particularly when we have something like what Israelis experienced in the last couple of weeks — attacks from a terrorist group indiscriminately targeting civilians — we want to make sure that Israel has the means to deal with that. At the same time, as a democracy, I think Israel has an extra burden — and we know the same thing — to make sure that when it is defending itself, defending its citizens, it is doing everything it possibly can to avoid civilian casualties, to minimize the harm that is done to those who can get caught in the crossfire.”
He says he believes that Israel “took very significant steps to do that, but we also know that on both sides, men, women and especially children were lost.”
On the issue of Palestinian statehood, he says Washington believes “very strongly that a two-state solution is not just the best way, but probably the only way, to really assure that going forward Israel has a future as a secure Jewish and democratic state and that the Palestinians have a state to which they are entitled. So we want to get to that.
“Right now the focus is on the aftermath of the recent violence, trying to build on the ceasefire, address the immediate needs and concerns, and then see if over time the conditions are such that there is a better environment for trying to pursue a two-state solution.”