Blinken: US not jump-starting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks now

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“I don’t think we’re in a place where getting to some kind of a negotiation for what ultimately, I think, has to be the result, which is a two-state solution.”

https://www.jpost.com-By TOVAH LAZAROFF

US SECRETARY of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at the State Department last month.

(photo credit: MANUEL BALCE CENETA/REUTERS)

The United States does not plan to jump start negotiations for a two-state solution at this time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Sunday morning.

“I don’t think we’re in a place where getting to some kind of a negotiation for what ultimately, I think, has to be the result, which is a two-state solution, is the first order of business,” Blinken told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

In the aftermath of the IDF-Hamas ceasefire that brought an end to the 11-day Gaza war, US President Joe Biden has spoken strongly about the need for peace and a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We still need a two-state solution,” Biden told reporters on Friday. “It is the only answer. The only answer.”

Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden did not enter the White Houses in January with a pledge to put forward a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the brief IDF-Hamas war raised speculation that he might have reconsidered that option.

“Is there really a prospect of some kind of movement toward a genuine political solution?” Zakaria asked?

“I think there has to be,” Blinken said. “I think both sides are reminded that we have to find a way to break the cycle, because if we don’t, it will repeat itself at great cost and at great human suffering on all sides.”

He clarified, however, that at this time the focus was on rebuilding Gaza and trying to put in place conditions that would allow for a genuine peace process.  “But that is not the immediate order of business,” Blinken said.

When asked if he would revive Trump’s peace plan for a two-state solution, Blinken gave a neutral answer.

“We’re going to look at everything that’s been done before, learn from that just as we have in other areas, and see what makes sense and what doesn’t,” Blinken said. “But our focus right now relentlessly is on dealing with the humanitarian situation, to do reconstruction and rebuild, and engage intensely with everyone, with Palestinians, with Israelis, with partners in the region.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, said that the international community could not afford to place the peace process on the back-burner.

“Now that there is a truce in place, some might be tempted to ‘move on’ and leave aside the underlying causes of the conflict,” Borrelll wrote in a blog he posted on Friday. “This would most likely lead to new cycles of violence that will only further strengthen extremists. We must do all we can to find that narrow political pathway: to return to meaningful negotiations for a two-state solution.”

He added that he planned to work toward the resumption of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the last such process ending in 2014.

Borrell said he planned to speak with all the relevant parties, including the Middle East Quartet made of up of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia.

“I will do all I can to try to re-open the space for negotiations and develop confidence-building measures,” Borrell said.

 

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