Biden Strongly Defends Israel Yet Says He’ll Help Rebuild Gaza

President Joe Biden strongly defended Israel, a day after the announcement of a cease-fire with Hamas, and said there won’t be peace until the region acknowledges Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Biden said the U.S. will help provide security in the West Bank and plans to put together “a major package” to help rebuild homes in the Gaza Strip. He reiterated his call for a “two-state solution.”

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

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

Biden praised a 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, which is controlled by Hamas, led some Democrats to pressure 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 airstrikes on Gaza.

Administration officials held about 80 calls with counterparts in the Middle East, according to the White House, including six calls between Biden and 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 cease-fire.

In a signal to Democrats who wanted to halt weapons sales to Israel, Biden said he was willing to help “replenish” the Iron Dome missile defense 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 U.S. raised pressure on Israel Wednesday. Both Israel and Hamas claimed to have prevailed.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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