The U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held talks in Rome on Sunday as both governments look to kickstart a new post-Trump-Netanyahu alliance era that aggravated partisan divisions in both countries.
With Benjamin Netanyahu leading Israeli opposition and Donald Trump sidelined in Florida, U.S President Joe Biden and new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett are looking to turn a new page and cement pragmatic diplomacy as opposed to dramatic initiatives witnessed in the past four years.
Speaking Sunday in Rome, Lapid acknowledged that mistakes were made during the Trump era that hurt Israel’s long-standing bipartisan relationships. And as they sat down for talks with Blinken, Lapid added that since taking office, he has already held conversations with both Republicans and Democrats, and has reminded them that Israel still shares America’s most basic values; Peace, Freedom, Democracy, and Open Societies.
Blinken, on his part, noted that although the U.S and Israel’s governments are relatively new, they will work on prioritizing initiatives that cement both countries’ enduring partnership and friendship. Pointing to the recent achievement that saw a temporary cease-fire between Israeli forces and Gaza militants (Hamas), Blinken said both countries will employ such small steps to revive the dormant peace process that will restore calm between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Long Approach to Quench Domestic Unrest
As opposed to Trump’s dramatic press conferences, Blinken said the endless cycles of unrest in the Gaza strip would be managed under the radar, with Biden’s “quiet” democracy a way out to paper over domestic divisions. And while the Palestinians will feel aggrieved and point to the decades-long oppression by Israelis, Blinken acknowledged that managing the conflict, as opposed to solving it, may succeed in cooling the unrest.
He said that both governments will seek to strengthen the fragile Israel coalition government by eliminating provocations such as those that led to the unrest in the Gaza strip. And as seen when Biden privately urged Netanyahu to wind down the 11-day Israel-Hamas war, the U.S and Israel are looking to work out their differences away from the public.
Elsewhere on The Agenda
While the move represents a first positive step towards building mutual trust between both countries, the top in Sunday meeting's agenda was how world powers would limit Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons. In 2018, Trump – backed by Benjamin Netanyahu – withdrew the U.S from Iran’s 2015 accord. Biden, on the other hand, promised to restore and expand the agreement, and he is right on course.
The talks are ongoing in Vienna and Israel seems more intent to stay engaged and influence the proceedings too. This is in stark contrast to Netanyahu’s government that openly opposed the deal a few years ago when the Obama administration entered negotiations. Even Naftali Bennett, who is ideologically aligned to Netanyahu, has toned down Iran’s rhetoric and promised to discuss, persuade, and share insights into the Iran nuclear accord talks to help tamp down tensions.
(written and edited by: The Decision Maker team)