Joe Biden reiterated his support for the Jewish state while denouncing Israeli settler violence and called for reunifying the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under a “revitalized Palestinian Authority.”
For the first time publicly, he threatened sanctions against Jewish settlers who attack Palestinians in the West Bank. “Extremist violence must stop and those who commit these acts must be held to account,” he wrote. “The United States is prepared to take its own measures, including depriving visas of extremists who attack civilians in the West Bank,” he adds. Since the October 7 Hamas attack, which killed some 1,200 Israelis, incidents have increased in the occupied territory. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by settlers and Israeli armed forces, according to the United Nations.
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Joe Biden, in his text, avoids criticizing Israel and its military offensive in Gaza which has left more than 12,000 dead, including 5,000 children, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health. He continues to categorically defend the Jewish state's right to defend itself and has repeated his opposition to any ceasefire. “As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a ceasefire will not be peace,” he says. A cessation of fighting would allow it to “replenish its rocket stocks, reposition its fighters and restart the massacre by attacking innocent people again,” he continues. Our goal should not just be to stop war today but to stop it forever.”
At the same time, he said he was “devastated” by the thousands of Palestinian civilian victims. “The two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the long-term security of the Israeli and Palestinian people. Even if today this prospect has never seemed so distant, this crisis makes it more necessary than ever.” In his column, he listed “the basic principles” which lead “to the path to peace”. “Gaza must no longer be used as a base for terrorism. There must be no forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, and no reduction of territory,” he wrote. “Gaza and the West Bank should be reunified under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority.”
Achieving this solution “is going to require commitment from the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also from the United States and our allies and partners. This work must begin now.” Joe Biden is under pressure from a growing number of allies and members of his party who are speaking out against the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. According to a very recent poll, 47% of Americans believe that Israel’s military actions are justified. But among Democrats, 51% think the Jewish state is going too far.
Israel's response was quick. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded that “the Palestinian Authority in its current form was not capable of assuming responsibility for Gaza.” “We cannot have a civilian authority in Gaza that supports terrorism, encourages terrorism, finances terrorism and teaches terrorism,” he said.
The op-ed in the Washington Post is also an appeal to Americans. Joe Biden drew a parallel between Hamas and Vladimir Putin, both of whom threaten “the stability” of their region and want to profit from the chaos. “America cannot and will not let this happen. For our national security interests and for the good of the entire world.” The US president is seeking to pressure Congress to obtain the $105 billion in military aid he has requested for Ukraine and Israel. But some Republicans in the House of Representatives are blocking the envelope for kyiv.
As for the release of nearly 240 hostages, including 9 Americans, Jonathan Finer, the deputy national security adviser, declared Sunday that they were "closer (to an agreement) than perhaps at any time since these negotiations began”, but nothing has been signed yet. He added that it concerns much more than a dozen hostages. For weeks, Israel, the United States and Hamas have been negotiating a release in exchange for a several-day ceasefire.