Blinken and Van Hollen Revive Kerry’s ‘Palestine First’ Plan

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) together revived the previous policy of prioritizing a Palestinian state before other peace agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

This policy was notably supported by then-Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016, who firmly believed that there could never be a “separate peace between Israel and the Arab world” without first addressing the Palestinian issue.

President Donald Trump demonstrated the opposite in 2020 with the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Sunni Arab states. By removing the Palestinian veto on other peace agreements, these accords were quickly established.

President Joe Biden and his advisers have reverted to the old stance, seemingly disregarding the four years of peace and stability achieved under Trump.

Van Hollen: … it’s in our national security interest to have a durable end to the conflict in Gaza, and to the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And that we can only achieve security and self-determination and dignity and justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike by securing normalization of relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia, and other states, as well as a clear plan — I think you said, time-bound plan — to establish a Palestinian state. Am I paraphrasing that fairly?

Blinken: That’s correct.

Van Hollen: And you agree that it’s not possible to achieve a secure and just end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by jumping over the equities of the Palestinian people, is that right?

Blinken: Absolutely not. That’s impossible, it would be self-defeating.

Van Hollen: I want to emphasize that point. Because you know, Mr. Secretary, you’ve been around Washington a long time, because it has been fashionable in some foreign policy circles to believe that you could do that, that you could somehow achieve peace and stability and security by jumping over the Palestinian issue. So — and I want to emphasize this, because you have said that the Saudis are insistent on a clear path to a Palestinian state …

Contrary to being “impossible,” Trump managed it — challenging what is popular in foreign policy circles. Furthermore, the Saudis have not consistently demanded a Palestinian state; the foreign minister has, but Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has not.

Notably, since Biden took office in 2021 and refocused on the Palestinian issue, no Arab state has joined the Abraham Accords.

Joel B. Pollak
Joel B. Pollak
South African-American conservative political commentator, writer, radio host, and attorney.

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