Biden strongly defends Israel yet says he’ll help rebuild Gaza

'There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period,' the US president said

US President Joe Biden strongly defended Israel on Friday after the announcement of a ceasefire with Hamas and said there will not be peace until the region acknowledges Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Mr Biden said the US will help provide security in the West Bank and that he plans to put together “a major package” to help rebuild homes in the Gaza Strip. He also called for a “two-state solution".

“There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period,” Mr Biden said Friday during a joint news conference at the White House with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

“Let’s get something straight here: Until the region says, unequivocally, that they acknowledged the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.”

Mr Biden praised the truce between Israel and Hamas after the 11-day clash left more 200 people dead. The fighting, which resulted in heavy Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, led some Democrats to pressure Mr Biden to take a harder line against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

The president, however, credited what he called his administration’s “quiet” diplomacy in helping bring an end to the rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Administration officials held about 80 calls with counterparts in the Middle East, according to the White House, including six calls between Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu as well as talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

It was Egypt that helped forged the ceasefire.

In a signal to Democrats who wanted to halt weapons sales to Israel, Mr Biden said he was willing to help “replenish” the Iron Dome missile defence system Israel deployed to stop the Hamas rockets, which were fired deep into Israeli territory.

The conflict was the fourth since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 and the most damaging. Efforts to end the hostilities intensified after the US raised pressure on Israel on Wednesday.

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory.

Published: May 22, 2021 03:18 AM

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