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Blinken to J Street: We will judge next Israeli government by policies, not personalities

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses the J Street conference in Washington on December 4, 2022. (Screen capture/YouTube)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses the J Street conference in Washington on December 4, 2022. (Screen capture/YouTube)

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the Biden administration will engage with the incoming hardline Israeli government based on the policies that it implements and not by the individuals slated to fill senior roles in the next coalition.

“We will gage the government by the policies and procedures, rather than individual personalities,” says Blinken in the keynote address at the annual conference of the dovish J Street conference. “We will hold to the [s]tandards we’ve established our relationship over the past several decades. And we will speak honestly and respectfully with our Israeli friends as partners always should.”

The remarks come amid speculation that Biden officials will not engage with some of the most far-right members of Israel’s likely next government, such as Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich, who is slated to become finance minister, and Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben Gvir, who is slated to become national security minister.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides refused to answer a question during an interview last week regarding whether he would meet with Ben Gvir.

Acknowledging the frustration of many in the crowd over the peace process’s digression, Blinken says the Biden administration will do more than just speak out against unilateral moves taken by both parties.

“Simply discouraging the sides from taking steps that undermine prospects for two-states is insufficient. Because the reality is that today, Palestinians and Israelis do not enjoy equal measures of freedom, security or opportunity,” he says.

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