[Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA:  “The United States fully supports Israel’s right
to defend itself against attacks such as the thousands of rockets fired by
Hamas indiscriminately against Israeli civilians.” but this remark is not
tied to condemning Hamas for being RESPONSIBLE for the Gazans who died
because Hamas exploited them as human shields.]

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Statements to the Press



MAY 25, 2021


PRIME MININSTER NETANYAHU:  Secretary Blinken, Tony, welcome to Jerusalem,
your first visit as the Secretary of State.  I have – since we’re running –
we had a long discussion, and we’re running late, so I want to be very brief
and speak about three points.

The first point is a vote of thanks to President Biden and you for firmly
supporting Israel’s right of self-defense.  I have to say that Secretary
Blinken, in a previous capacity in 2014, when we had another round of
engagement against Hamas aggression, supported us by having Iron Dome
replenishments, a quarter of a billion dollars, that you personally
shepherded through the system very quickly.  And we remember it and we’re
very grateful to you.  And you are giving meaning to this now again with
replenishments of Iron Dome interceptors that saved civilian lives on both
sides, and we’re grateful for that too.  We too will give meaning to our
commitment to our self-defense.  If Hamas breaks the calm and attacks
Israel, our response will be very powerful.  And we have discussed ways of
how to work together to prevent Hamas rearmament with weapons and means of

The second point is – naturally, is Iran.  We discussed many regional
issues, but none is greater than Iran.  And I can tell you that I hope that
the United States will not go back to the old JCPOA because we believe that
that deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with
international legitimacy.  We also reiterated that whatever happens, Israel
will always reserve the right to defend itself against a regime committed to
our destruction, committed to getting the weapons of mass destruction for
that end.

The third point is peace.  We need to work together to expand normalization
between Israel and the Arab and the Muslim world, and deepen the peace
treaties that we already have.  We discussed also how to improve the lives
and the conditions of the Palestinians, the humanitarian conditions in Gaza,
including the question of the return of our MIAs and two civilians who are
there, as well as building economic growth for Judea and Samaria, the West
Bank, with international cooperation and participation, and for peace itself
with the Palestinians, a formal peace.  I think President Biden was
absolutely correct when he said you’re not going to get peace until Israel
is recognized as an independent Jewish state.  And that is the key.  I
couldn’t agree more with President Biden.

And I couldn’t be happier than welcoming you here and your delegation in
Jerusalem.  We have a lot to work for.  We have common goals of peace,
security, and prosperity, and I look forward to working with you on those in
this visit and more, so welcome.  Welcome.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Prime Minister, thank you.  Thank you very,
very much.  Thank you for hosting us today.  Thank you for the very good and
lengthy conversation.  I’m looking forward also to spending some more time
with some of our colleagues, with Foreign Minister Ashkenazi, Defense
Minister Gantz, as well later with President Abbas and other Palestinian

President Biden asked me to come here today, really, for four reasons:
First, to demonstrate the commitment of the United States to Israel’s
security, to start to work toward greater stability and reduce tensions in
the West Bank and Jerusalem, to support urgent humanitarian and
reconstruction assistance for Gaza, to benefit the Palestinian people, and
to continue to rebuild our relationship with the Palestinian people and the
Palestinian Authority.  Intense behind-the-scenes diplomacy led by President
Biden, working very closely with the prime minister, helped produce last
week’s ceasefire.  Now, we believe we must build on it.

That starts with the recognition that losses on both sides were profound.
Casualties are often reduced to numbers but behind every number is an
individual human being – a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a
grandparent, a best friend.  And as the Talmud teaches, to lose a life is to
lose the whole world, whether that life is Palestinian or Israeli.  I
underscored to the prime minister something that President Biden made
crystal-clear throughout the violence:  The United States fully supports
Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks such as the thousands of
rockets fired by Hamas indiscriminately against Israeli civilians.

For the President, I think as many of you know, this commitment is personal.
It runs deep.  He has been one of Israel’s most steadfast supporters for the
last 50 years, having worked closely with every prime minister starting with
Golda Meir and now with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

As the prime minister mentioned, we had a detailed discussion about Israel’s
security needs, including replenishing Iron Dome.  We’ll continue to
strengthen all aspects of our longstanding partnership.  And that includes
consulting closely with Israel, as we did today, on the ongoing negotiations
in Vienna around a potential return to the Iran nuclear agreement, at the
same time as we continue to work together to counter Iran’s destabilizing
actions in the region.

We know that to prevent a return to violence, we have to use the space
created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges, and
that begins with tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and
starting to rebuild.  The United States will work to rally international
support around that effort while also making our own significant
contributions, including some that I’ll announce later today.  We’ll work
with our partners, closely with all to ensure that Hamas does not benefit
from the reconstruction assistance.

At the same time, we need to work to expand opportunity for Palestinians in
Gaza and in the West Bank, including by strengthening the private sector,
expanding trade and investment, and other means.  Assistance and investment
like these will help foster a more stable environment that benefits
Palestinians and also benefits Israelis.

Prime Minister and I had a chance to discuss other steps that need to be
taken by leaders on both sides to set a better course for their shared
future.  As President Biden has said, we believe that Palestinians and
Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely; to enjoy equal
measures of freedom, opportunity, and democracy; to be treated with dignity.
We also discussed some of the intercommunal violence that erupted in Israel
during the conflict, and healing these wounds will take leadership at every
level of society, from elected officials to community leaders to neighbors.
And we very much welcome the statements the prime minister made and members
of his government made condemning the attacks regardless of whom they

In our own country, in the United States, we’ve witnessed a shocking
eruption of anti-Semitic attacks.  As President Biden said just yesterday,
they are despicable and they must stop.  There’s a lot of hard work ahead to
restore hope, respect, and some trust across communities.  But we’ve seen
the alternative, and I think that should cause all of us to redouble our
efforts to preserve the peace and improve the lives of Israelis and
Palestinians alike.

But Prime Minister, again, thank you so much for all the time, thank you for
the very, very good conversation, and we look forward to doing a lot of work
together.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  And thank you and the President for your strong
statements against anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism, but it’s
anti-Semitism, and you took a bold position, clear position, and we
appreciate it.  I think all decent people, decent people everywhere
appreciate that stance.  Thank you.

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