Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rex Tillerson

At his hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State designate Rex Tillerson blasted the Obama administration, stressing that Israel is America’s “most important ally” in the Middle East.

Former ExxonMobil CEO and Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson, at his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, sided with Israel and blasted the Obama administration for its foreign policies.

“I think [the ‘two-state solution’] is the dream that everyone is in pursuit of,” he said, but “whether it can ever be a reality remains to be seen.”

Tillerson, whose views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were previously unknown, said the two-state plan “has to be a shared aspiration of all of us. I think it’s the State Department’s role to try and create an environment that brings parties together that want to find a way forward. I can tell you that under the conditions today, it’s extremely challenging to do that, but that has to be the aspirational goal.”

He also singled out the Palestinians for the current deadlock in the peace process with Israel.

“I would say in the case of the Palestinian leadership, while they have renounced violence, it is one thing to renounce it and another to take concrete action to prevent it,” Tillerson said.

“I think until there is a serious demonstration on their part and they are willing to do more than just renounce violence, [until] they are willing to do something to at least interrupt it or interfere with it, it is very difficult to create conditions at the table for parties to have any productive discussion around a settlement,” he added.

This view stands in stark contrast with the Obama administration’s policies, which tended to place the onus on Israel.

Asked about the recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution condemning Israel for its policies in Judea and Samaria, Tillerson stated, “Israel is, has always been and remains our most important ally in the region. The UN resolution that was passed, in my view, is not helpful. It actually undermines a good set of conditions for talks to continue.”

As for Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech defending the US’ abstention at the vote,  he found it “quite troubling because of the attacks on Israel and in many ways undermining the government of Israel itself in terms of its own legitimacy and the talks.”

Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Tillerson said he would recommend “a full review of that agreement” with President-elect Donald Trump.

By: and United with Israel Staff