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Blinken tells Bennett the US hopes to help Israel build up its regional ties

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Willard Hotel in Washington on August 25, 2021. (Avi Ohayon / GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Willard Hotel in Washington on August 25, 2021. (Avi Ohayon / GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“I bring from Israel a new spirit,” says Bennett, returning to a theme he introduced before getting on the plane Tuesday, “a spirit of folks who sometimes harbor different opinions, but can work together in cooperation and goodwill, in a spirit of unity, and we work hard to find common things we do agree upon and move forward on, and it seems to be working.”

Bennett says that he wants to bring the spirit of cooperation, goodwill, and friendship to the US – Israel relationship.

He adds that the two will discuss many issues, including ways to curtail Iran’s pursuit of regional dominance, and its race to a nuclear weapon.

Bennett says that they will also discuss regional stability and climate change, and says that Israel’s unique technological innovations can help move the needle.

Blinken notes that Biden has known every Israeli leader since Golda Meir in the 1970s, and looks forward to working with Bennett.

He stresses that the US commitment to Israel’s security will always be unshakeable.

“We look forward to addressing all these challenges we face, particularly regional security,” he says, singling out Iran.

Blinken brings up “the relationships that Israel is developing in the region,” without using the term “Abraham Accords,” as seems to be administration policy. He says that the US looks forward to helping Israel build on those relationships.

Notably, Blinken brings up the importance of working on Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, which Bennett did not mention in his statement.

“We’re just the opening act for the president,” says Blinken.

Before reporters were ushered out of the room, Bennett could be heard assuring Blinken that Israel has no more elections on the horizon after four in less than two years.

“I don’t want to intrude in your politics,” Blinken responded, smiling.

“Please do, maybe you’ll help!” Bennett replied with a chuckle.

Then after the camera lights went dark, the Israeli premier could be heard commenting on the US-led evacuation of Afghanistan amid the Taliban’s takeover, comparing the effort to Dunkirk.

“On that level alone, it’s one of the most extraordinary logistical operations,” Blinken responded.

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