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Blank check? Joe Biden 'completely' opposes withholding US aid to Israel as annexation looms Open in fullscreen

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Blank check? Joe Biden 'completely' opposes withholding US aid to Israel as annexation looms

Biden has previously stated he opposes unilateral annexation [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 May, 2020

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An advisor to Joe Biden has said the former vice president 'completely' opposes conditioning US aid on Israeli policy.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden would oppose cutting off US aid to Israel under any circumstances, a foreign policy advisor has said.

Anthony Blinken, an advisor to the former vice president, reitirated on Monday Biden's "complete" opposition to reducing or withholding military aid to the US ally, just a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to go forward with the annexation of large swathes of the occupied West Bank.

"He completely opposes it, he would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions Israel makes," Blinken said in a call organised by lobby organisation the Democratic Majority for Israel.

Biden has previously stated that he believes conditioning US aid to Israel on its policies would be "outrageous" and "wrong".

Instead, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would prefer to air grievances in private, Blinken said.

Biden believes in "keeping things between friends and maintaining as little distance as possible in public", the former State Department official was quoted as saying by Haaretz.

Blinken said last month that the presidential candidate opposes "unilateral steps taken by either side that make the prospect of a negotiated two-state outcome less likely is something he opposes, and that includes annexation", but it is unclear how Biden would express that opposition if elected.

Read more: Israeli annexation looms, and Democrats' 'opposition' is more feckless than ever

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The former vice president resisted pressure to take a more critical stance on Israel during the Democratic presidential race.

Although he has previously clashed with the Israeli premier over the Iran nuclear deal and settlement construction, Biden has boasted of being a "personal friend" of Netanyahu. 

Despite Biden's desire to resolve conflicts behind closed doors, the prospect of his election in November has sparked fears among the Israeli right.

Supporters of the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank seek to move quickly before the election takes place, in case they find an unsupportive president in the White House.

President Donald Trump, who Netanyahu has called the "best friend Israel has ever had in the White House", backed the annexation of most Israeli settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley in a plan released earlier this year.

The so-called "Deal of the Century" was produced without any consultation with Palestinian negotiators and its provisions for annexation have been met with widespread condemnation from the international community.

A pact between Netanyahu and former rival Benny Gantz to form a unity administration allows for the Israeli government to begin annexing the occupied Palestinian territories on July 1.

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