Mondoweiss / February 9, 2021
Secretary of State Antony Blinken tells CNN the Biden administration embraces Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and refuses to commit to the idea of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.
This week Secretary of State Antony Blinken was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer at CNN. The Biden official was asked about a number of foreign policy topics, including Israeli policy.
When asked about Israel’s illegal embrace of Jerusalem as its capital, Blinken endorsed the move.
Blitzer: Do you regard Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?
Blinken: I do, yes. And more importantly, we do.
However, Blinken refused to commit to the idea of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem:
Blitzer: As part of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, would you support Palestine having its capital in East Jerusalem.
Blinken: Look, what we have to see happen is for the parties to get together directly and negotiate these so-called “final status issues.” That’s the objective and, as I’ve said, we’re unfortunately a ways away from that at this time.
In addition to the comments on Jerusalem, Blinken refused to condemn Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights or Trump’s support for such policies:
Blitzer: The Trump administration, as you know, also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria back in 1967. Will your administration, the Biden administration, continue to see the Golan Heights as part of Israel?
Blinken: Look, leaving aside the legalities of that question, as a practical matter the Golan is very important to Israel’s security, as long as Assad is in power in Syria, as long as long as Iran is present in Syria. Militia groups backed by Iran, the Assad regime itself. All of these pose a significant security threat to Israel and as a practical matter, control of the Golan in that situation I think remains of real importance to Israel’s security.
Legal questions are something else and if over time the situation was to change in Syria, that is something we’d look at it but we are nowhere near that.
“To reflect on how outrageous this is, imagine if Iran captured the Syrian Golan Heights using Netanyahu’s threats as a pretext — Would Blinken ever excuse it?,” tweeted political analyst Omar Baddar, “Of course not! Only Israeli land theft is magically justifiable in the name of ‘security’.”
Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss