The US Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as the next secretary of state. Seventy-eight senators from both parties voted to approve his nomination, and 22 opposed.
Blinken is one of Biden’s closest advisers. In 2009, when Biden was vice president, he served as his national security advisor. Later, he became deputy national security advisor from 2013-2015 under president Barack Obama and then-deputy secretary of state from 2015-2017.
Blinken, 58, was born in New York to Jewish parents.
Early in Biden’s primary campaign, he was tapped to lead his foreign-policy team as its top adviser. In the past year, he has represented the Biden campaign in numerous events and panels, communicating the nominee’s positions on foreign policy, from China to Russia to the Middle East.
Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, tweeted: “The failed diplomacy of the Trump administration weakened our alliances, emboldened our adversaries, and tarnished America’s reputation abroad. Tony Blinken is the right person to help rebuild.”
“I’m proud I just voted to confirm him as President Biden’s Secretary of State,” he added.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America congratulated Blinken as well. “We are confident that Secretary Blinken’s integrity, moral leadership, and deep commitment to America’s role in the world will further our national security,” the group tweeted.
One of the top issues on his desk would be how to deal with Iran.
Last week, in his Senate confirmation hearing, Blinken said that when it comes to Iran policy, it is vitally important that the incoming administration would “engage on the take-off, not the landing, with our allies and with our partners in the region to include Israel and to include the Gulf countries.”
“Biden is committed to the proposition that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said. “Iran, with a nuclear weapon or on a threshold of having one would be an Iran that is even more dangerous than it already is when it comes to all of the other malicious activities that it has engaged in, whether it is support for terrorism; whether it is fueling and feeding its proxies; whether it is destabilizing the region.”
Prior to Biden’s inauguration, he addressed the chances that the Biden administration would return to the agreement. “The [then] president-elect believes that if Iran comes back into compliance, we would, too,” Blinken said. “But we would use that as a platform with our allies and partners who would once again, be on the same side with us, to seek a longer and stronger agreement.”
He said that such an agreement should “capture these other issues, particularly with regard to missiles and Iran’s destabilizing activities, that would be the objective.”
“Having said that, I think we’re a long way from there,” he added. “We would have to see once the president-elect is in office what steps Iran actually takes and is prepared to take, and we would then have to evaluate whether they were actually making good. If they say they’re coming back into compliance with their obligations and then we’ve taken it from there.”
SPEAKING ABOUT the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Blinken said that the two-state solution, “however distant it may appear, is still the best and probably the only way to truly assure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, and of course, to give the Palestinians the state to which they are entitled.”
“I hope that the progress that was made with the Abraham Accords, which I applaud – the steps that countries are taking to normalize relations with Israel is an extremely positive development, and one that we would hope to build on if given the opportunity,” Blinken added. “I hope that also might create a greater sense of confidence and security in Israel as it considers its relationship with the Palestinians, because whether we like it or not, whether they like it or not, it’s not just going away.”