Arab countries 'prepared to fully recognise Israel', Biden says during campaign event

Event featuring Barack Obama and Bill Clinton interrupted frequently by pro-Palestine protesters

US President Joe Biden and former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton at a campaign event in New York late on Thursday night. Reuters
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US President Joe Biden has said that Saudi Arabia “and all the other Arab countries” are prepared to fully recognise Israel for the first time.

Mr Biden, who made the remarks at a campaign event in New York late on Thursday night, would not go into further detail, but added that the key to any deal was a post-Gaza plan and “a train to a two-state solution”.

“It doesn't have to occur today, but there has to be a progression, and I think we can do that,” the President said, according to reporters present at the event that included appearances by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

He added that, although the US is making inroads in efforts to deliver aid to Gaza, “there's much more we can do”.

“But I'm confident it can be done and Israel's integrity, Israel's security … can be preserved.”

Regional states, through the Arab Peace Initiative, offered in 2002 to recognise Israel in return for the creation of a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel rejected the proposal.

In 2020, Israel signed the Abraham Accords with the UAE and Bahrain, normalising ties. Sudan and Morocco later signed on to the accords as well.

Before the Hamas-led attacks of October 7 that began the latest war in Gaza, Washington – which brokered the accords – had hoped Saudi Arabia would be the next signatory.

But Riyadh has been clear that it would not agree to establish relations with Israel without the formation of a Palestinian state.

Despite the hopeful tone struck by Mr Biden as well as Mr Clinton and Mr Obama, the event was interrupted several times by pro-Palestine protesters.

Gaza protest in Washington – in pictures

The President and his predecessors, however, seemed to take it in stride.

“That's all right. Let them go. There's a lot of people who are very, very – there are too many innocent victims, Israeli and Palestinian,” Mr Biden said.

“We've got to get more food and medicine, supplies in to the Palestinians.”

Mr Obama chided protesters for interrupting without listening.

“You can't just talk and not listen, because that's part of democracy. Part of democracy is not just talking; it's listening,” he said.

“And it is possible for us to understand that it is possible to have moral clarity and have deeply held beliefs, but still recognise that the world is complicated and it is hard to solve these problems.”

Mr Biden and officials in his administration have been frequently confronted by pro-Palestine protesters calling for a ceasefire at both campaign and non-campaign events over the past several months.

This week, Vice President Kamala Harris was greeted by protesters when she arrived in Puerto Rico and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has had manure thrown at his home by activists.

Protesters set up camp across street from Blinken's house – video

Protesters set up camp across the street from Antony Blinken's house

Protesters set up camp across the street from Antony Blinken's house

A group of protesters has been stationed outside Secretary of State Antony Blinken's house for several weeks, with demonstrators calling their camp Kibbutz Blinken.

During the event, Mr Biden, Mr Obama and Mr Clinton issued warnings about a possible future under Donald Trump, the President's putative Republican challenger.

Mr Biden said he believed “democracy is literally at stake” in this year's election.

The event raised more than $25 million, making it the most successful single political fundraiser ever in terms of dollars raised, CNN reported.

Updated: March 29, 2024, 6:36 PM