Antony Blinken says the Biden administration will not undo the controversial move of Donald Trump’s US embassy to Jerusalem.
The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will maintain the US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, his candidate for secretary of state said during his confirmation hearing in the Senate.
“Do you agree that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and do you commit to the United States maintaining our embassy in Jerusalem?” asked Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
“Yes and yes,” Antony Blinken said during his testimony on Tuesday.
Outgoing President Donald Trump announced the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017. The United States moved its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May of the following year.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long conflict in the Middle East, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) insisting that East Jerusalem – illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 – should serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
“The only way to secure Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state and give the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled is through the so-called two-state solution,” Blinken said.
“I think realistically it’s hard to see any short-term prospects for moving forward. What would be important is to make sure that neither party takes steps that make the already difficult process even more difficult, ”he added.
There has not yet been a comment from the Palestinian leadership.
Lama Khater, a journalist based in Hebron, an occupied West Bank city, wrote in a Twitter post: “Everything is subject to change in the agendas of successive US administrations, except absolute loyalty to Israel.”
Everything is subject to change in the agendas of successive US administrations, except for absolute loyalty to Israel https://t.co/7LrhFles23
– Lama Khater لمى خاطر (@lama_khater) January 20, 2021
The Trump administration has been unfazed in its open support for Israel.
The past four years have anchored US patronage to Israel through policies such as cutting US aid to the Palestinian Authority and withdrawing funding from the UN refugee agency on which millions of Palestinians depend. for education, food and livelihoods.
Going against the international consensus, the Trump administration recognized Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and the occupied Golan Heights and said that settlement building was not illegal.
Almost 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank. In recent years, settlement expansion has intensified, threatening the viability of an independent Palestinian state under the two-state solution.
While Biden has indicated his administration will re-establish Washington’s pre-Trump policy of opposing settlement expansion, he nonetheless claims “unwavering support” for Israel.
Analysts have highlighted that Biden’s Israeli policy is likely to be a continuation, not a reset of the previous administration. Biden’s campaign officials have said he is also unlikely to reverse Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.
Biden said he would be leaving the US embassy in Jerusalem.