The US Secretary of State has spoken with the Israeli foreign minister on a number of issues related to the region

Blinken insists on two-state solution

photo_camera AP/EVAN VUCCI - State Secretary Antony Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has followed in the footsteps of his president, who held a phone call with Netanyahu a few days ago, and has spoken with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Israel is one of the United States' main allies in the region and its relationship shapes many of the events that take place there and the links that are maintained with third countries. The clearest case in point is Iran, with which Israel maintains a much firmer position than the new US administration seems likely to do, leading to a fierce insistence by Tel Aviv to maintain the hard line adopted by Trump.

Apart from the relationship with Iran, one of the issues that has changed the most with Biden's arrival is the diplomatic push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US position is in favour of a two-state solution, as the US secretary of state has reiterated on multiple occasions since taking office.

Atalayar_Gabi Ashkenazi

During his call with the Israeli minister, Blinken put this possibility on the table as the only one possible, as well as indicating that it is the "best way to guarantee Israel's future". "Two independent states living together democratically" is how Blinken described the future of the region, although he also warned that the commitment to Israel's security is absolute, and any unilateral action against its security will be rejected by the United States. This is a wake-up call to Hamas, whose armed activity is detrimental to Palestinian society as a whole.

The other issue of paramount importance at present is the situation regarding the Iran nuclear deal. Israel is a staunch opponent of the agreement, believing that it cannot give in to the development of Iran's nuclear programme, whose aims, they say, are not exactly peaceful. Israel has also found in its recent alliances with Gulf states such as the Emirates important support for its rejection of Iran's nuclear programme. Biden's position, on the other hand, is more conciliatory, as he believes that controlling the development of the programme is better than outright opposition and that Tehran should continue to take steps forward on the issue.

However, the situation is delicate, because after the last-minute agreement reached by the IAEA and Iran on maintaining controls and inspections, albeit limited, the internal division in Iran between those who want to avoid a return to the agreement at all costs and those who are working to bring about a lifting of tensions became visible yesterday in Parliament. The government, a signatory to the agreement with the IAEA, has opposed the decision of the Iranian legislature, which considers that the agreement contradicts the law passed at the end of 2020 and has therefore rejected it.

Atalayar_Mahmoud Abbas

Returning to Israel and Palestine, it is important to note that elections will finally take place this year in the Palestinian territories - but also in Israel, the fourth in two years - and that the results of both could mark the diplomatic future. Netanyahu's position is complicated, with accusations of corruption against him currently on trial, so it remains to be seen how the Israeli parliament will shape up in the elections on 23 March. 

For its part, Palestine faces three elections in just a few months. Parliamentary elections will be held on 22 May, presidential elections at the end of July and elections for the Palestinian National Council at the end of August. These will be the first elections to be held in the Palestinian territories in 15 years, so the resulting scenario, depending on how much power Fatah and Hamas gain, will be decisive in terms of whether progress can be made, or further setbacks in a solution to the decades-long conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. The normalisation of relations between Israel and countries such as Morocco, the Emirates and Bahrain could also influence the resolution, as they could play an important mediating role.

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