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Israeli officials concerned over Biden’s stance on Iran and Palestine 

January 22, 2021 at 9:40 am

President Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware 7 November 2020 [Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]

Israeli officials expressed concern on Thursday over the apparent intention of US President Joe Biden to rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, as well as resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Israeli Army Radio, the statements made by new Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the Senate on Wednesday did not allay Israel’s fears.

However, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz downplayed the officials’ concerns, saying that they lack an understanding of the reality in the United States. “As someone who personally knows Biden, as well as the US Democratic and Republican arenas, Netanyahu is regarded as one of the most important leaders there,” explained Steinitz. “And Israeli-American contacts about the nuclear deal will start soon.”

Communication always takes place through several channels, he added. “The most important channel is the direct one.”

Israel’s Ambassador in Washington, Gilad Erdan, said on Thursday that he was confident that Biden is a friend of Israel. “I think we can expect years of expanding cooperation to even more areas beyond the existing ones,” he told Army Radio. “I think there is a strong basis for optimism.”

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Yedioth Ahronoth pointed out that Biden is expected to support the normalisation agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, but he will not agree to supplying arms to the Gulf States, as Donald Trump did. The newspaper added that Israel plans to ask the Biden administration not to throw up any surprises on the Iranian and Palestinian issues.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, welcomed Blinken’s announcement of the Biden administration’s commitment to a two-state solution while not annulling Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “This indicates that he is a friend of Israel. Only those who are not friends of Israel can support leaving the political situation as it is, which is contrary to Israeli interests,” he told Maariv.