Blinken Holds First Call With Israeli Foreign Minister After Confirmation as Biden’s Secretary of State

Call between Blinken and Ashkenazi is second high-level one between U.S. and Israeli officials in the week since Inauguration Day – while Netanyahu has yet to get a call from President Biden

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concludes his first press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, January 27, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concludes his first press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, January 27, 2021. Credit: CARLOS BARRIA / POOL / AFP
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a call with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday, a day after his confirmation as President Joe Biden’s secretary of state. In the week since Biden’s inauguration, the president has held a phone call with several world leaders, but not with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Foreign Ministry said Ashkenazi and Blinken discussed Iran, “widening the circle of peace” and other topics. 

It was the second top-level call between the Israeli government and the Biden administration, following  National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s conversation with Meir Ben Shabbat, his Israeli counterpart, on Saturday. 

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Following the call, Ashkenazi said that peace agreements sponsored by the U.S. “have created a broad coalition of peace in the Middle East, and we must all continue to work to remove any threat that could disturb the stability of the security situation.” The Foreign Ministry said Blinken and Ashkenazi agreed to meet in person as soon as possible. 

Blinken said in his Senate confirmation hearing this month that it's "vitally important" that the United States consult with Israel and Gulf states regarding any potential re-entry into the Iran nuclear deal 

Blinken also said that the Biden administration does not plan to reverse the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv. “The only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state and to give the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled is through the so-called two-state solution,” Blinken said.“Realistically,” he added, “it’s hard to see near-term prospects for moving forward on that.”

He said he is strongly opposed to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, but that he also fully respects people’s right to free speech. 

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