Biden warns Israel not to use Gaza aid as 'bargaining chip'

US President announces plan for temporary pier to allow more emergency supplies to enter enclave in State of the Union address

Joe Biden announces plan for aid pier in Gaza

Joe Biden announces plan for aid pier in Gaza
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US President Joe Biden warned Israel against using humanitarian aid to Gaza as a "bargaining chip" as he issued a call for an immediate and temporary ceasefire with Hamas.

"To the leadership of Israel I say this: humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip," Mr Biden said in his State of the Union address on Thursday night in Washington. "Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority."

He laid out a plan, announced by officials earlier in the day, to set up a temporary pier in the Mediterranean to bring aid into the besieged enclave, where the UN has warned of the risk of famine.

Mr Biden repeated that Israel was justified in attacking Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, after the group's attack on October 7 and said the militant group "could end this conflict today" by releasing hostages held in the enclave.

He described the effect of the conflict on Gazans as heartbreaking. "I've been working non-stop to establish an immediate ceasefire that would last for six weeks," he said.

The proposed truce deal would "get the hostages home and ease the intolerable humanitarian crisis, and build towards something more enduring", Mr Biden added.

He also repeated his support for the creation of a Palestinian state, a long-term goal opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right government.

"As we look to the future, the only real solution is a two-state solution," Mr Biden said. "I say this as a lifelong supporter of Israel. My entire career, no one has a stronger record with Israel. I challenge any of you here."

The war has devastated Gaza, killed more than 30,800 Palestinians and led to violence across the Middle East.

While international mediators hoped a truce would be agreed on before Ramadan, no breakthrough has yet been announced.

Updated: March 08, 2024, 11:07 AM