Blinken congratulates Netanyahu, hopes to work on shared ‘values’

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday congratulated Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu on forming a government, which includes far-right figures, and called for commitment to “values” including on Palestinian rights.

“I want to say congratulations to Prime Minister Netanyahu on announcing the formation of a new government,” Blinken told a news conference.

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Asked if President Joe Biden’s administration would deal with extremists in the government, Blinken repeated that Washington would “engage with and judge our partners in Israel on the basis of the policies they pursue, not the personalities that happen to form a government.”

“We look forward to working with Israel to advance both the interests and the values that have long been at the heart of our relationship and also to promoting a broader approach to try to bring equal measures of security, opportunity, prosperity and dignity to Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Blinken said.

Blinken said that the United States has a history of “very candid conversations” with Israel on disagreements due to the “rock-solid partnership” and US commitment to the Jewish state’s security.

Netanyahu, who had testy relations with previous Democratic president Barack Obama, announced the formation of a government to bring him back to power just before a Wednesday deadline following Israel’s fifth election in less than four years.

Netanyahu, who is fighting corruption charges, brought in members of an extreme bloc and promised an expanded national security ministry to Itamar Ben Gvir, who has a long history of using incendiary rhetoric against Arabs.

Read more: Netanyahu: US needs to reaffirm support for allies, including Saudi Arabia

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