Israel 'part of the problem' in West Bank, says Biden

The US president's criticism follows a series of deadly Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank

President Joe Biden reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict during an interview which aired on Sunday. AP
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US President Joe Biden criticised members of Israel's far-right cabinet over their policies in the occupied West Bank, and reiterated his support for a two-state solution with Palestinians.

“It's not all Israel's problem [in the West Bank], but they are part of the problem … particularly those individuals in the cabinet who say …[Palestinians] have no right to be here,” Mr Biden said in a pre-recorded interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, which aired on Sunday.

“I am one of those who believes Israel's ultimate security rests in a two-state solution,” he added.

Mr Biden dodged questions as to whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would receive an invitation to visit the White House, after Israel engaged in its largest military operation in the West Bank's Jenin in decades, killing at least 12 people last week.

The comments are a rare show of cautious American criticism of its longtime ally, which has become more frequent as the Biden administration works with Israel's far-right government under Mr Netanyahu.

The Israeli operation focused on the northern city of Jenin, a centre for several armed Palestinian groups. It involved hundreds of troops, drone strikes and armoured bulldozers. Apache gunship helicopters were deployed in the West Bank for the first time since the intifada, or uprising, 23 years ago.

The EU's representative to the Palestinian territories condemned the level of force employed in the deadly raid, after leading a delegation of UN officials and diplomats to the camp. The condemnation follows UN experts saying the Israeli operation could constitute a war crime.

At the start of the two-day incursion, a White House official told The National that the administration supported Israel's right to defend itself.

Mr Biden said on Sunday that the “Palestinian Authority has lost its credibility … and created a vacuum for extremism among the Palestinians, there's some very extreme elements.”

He added that Washington is talking with the Israelis “regularly” in a bid to “tamp down” the violent escalations in the West Bank.

“Hopefully [Mr Netanyahu] will continue to move towards moderation and changing the conduct,” he added.

Updated: July 09, 2023, 4:15 PM