After the outbreak of violence, the American Secretary of State, as soon as he arrived in Israel on Monday, urged “the parties to take measures to calm the situation”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Monday amid tense conditions, both locally and regionally. The Palestinian file, on which the new Israeli cabinet is more than ever at odds with the Biden Administration, will be discussed. But Blinken must also take up particularly pressing security issues with Israel. That of the Iranian atomic and ballistic program seems to have entered a new phase, while Tehran is getting closer than ever to the threshold of manufacturing nuclear weapons. The American secretary of state must also discuss Ukraine with the Israelis, and the complex overlaps between the Israeli will to maintain its good relations with Moscow, and the efforts of Washington to obstruct the deliveries of Iranian weapons to the Russians.
Blinken had to react upon his arrival to the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, which came in recent days as a reminder that the conflict is not at all settled. “There is no doubt that this is a very difficult time“, said the head of American diplomacy Sunday from Cairo, the first stage of his visit to the Middle East, “we will encourage the parties to take measures to calm the situation, to defuse tensions».
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Upon his arrival in Israel, Blinken offered his condolences to the families of the seven people killed Friday leaving a synagogue in Neve Yaakov, East Jerusalem. He said attacks outside a place of worship are “particularly shockingand condemned them who “celebrate these acts and any other acts of terrorismwhich was aimed primarily at the Palestinians. Blinken will try on Tuesday to convince Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to restore security ties with Israel, suspended by the Palestinians after the Israeli army’s raid on the Jenin refugee camp last Thursday, which had kills nine. “We don’t think this is the right step to take at this time.said Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf ahead of Blinken’s trip. “Far from backing down on security coordination, we believe it is absolutely important that the parties maintain it and, if possible, deepen it.».
But the most important part of Blinken’s visit remains his meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, back in power at the head of a cabinet more opposed than ever to any concession to the Palestinians. In addition to the violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Blinken was to discuss with him the judicial reform project in Israel, as well as the initiatives of several members of his government aimed at changing the status quo on the Holy Sites, the consequences of which Americans fear.
Relations between the Biden Administration and Netanyahu are not marked by great trust. Netanyahu, who did not fail to show his support for Donald Trump, is perceived by the American administration as an ally of the Republican Party at the same time as the head of a government which includes many representatives of particularly extreme Israeli parties. . But US officials are also keen to point out that US-Israel security relations are not about people.
There is no doubt that this is a very difficult time. We will encourage the parties to take steps to calm the situation, to defuse tensions
This close cooperation was recalled last week by the largest military exercise ever conducted by the two countries. Dubbed “Juniper Oak,” these naval air maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean sounded a lot like a direct warning sent to Iran. They brought together an aircraft carrier and more than 140 American aircraft, including F-35 stealth penetration aircraft and B-52 bombers, and around 40 Israeli aircraft. Several scenarios of air defense suppression missions and long-range bomber raids were simulated, some with live ammunition, some of which directly evoked rehearsals for a possible operation against Iranian nuclear and ballistic facilities.
Blinken’s visit was preceded by two senior US security officials, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and CIA Director William Burns, who visited Israel unannounced last week. .
After failed US attempts to bring Iran back into the nuclear deal, President Biden said the United States would never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and would use force.last resortto prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. According to experts, Iran is closer than ever to having the materials needed to manufacture several bombs.
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Saturday evening, a drone attack against an Iranian arms factory in Isfahan was reported by Tehran, and several American media, citing security sources in Washington, attributed the attack to Israeli intelligence services.
Another part of the discussions between Americans and Israelis must focus on support for Ukraine, one of the priorities of the Biden administration. Washington is seeking increased cooperation from Israel, including to hamper deliveries of Iranian drones to Russian forces. Israel has been sparing its relations with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, in particular to be able to contain Iranian activities in Syria, but is also concerned about this increased cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.
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