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'Biggest mistake if Israeli military attempts to recapture Gaza', Biden warns Netanyahu

Israel-Hamas War: After Blinken, US President Biden may travel to the war-torn nation in order to show their support to Israel. However, the confirmation about the same is yet to be announced by the White House.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Washington Updated on: October 16, 2023 10:28 IST
US President Joe Biden and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
Image Source : AP US President Joe Biden and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Amid the unprecedented war in Israel, an official, on Sunday, said US President Joe Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days. However, he added the trip is yet to be finalised. If the President travels, it would be a powerful symbol of sympathy and support following the brutal attack by Hamas. A trip would be a chance for Biden to personally affirm to the Israeli people the US is standing firm behind them.

But it would come amid growing fears that a looming Israeli move into Gaza could spark a wider war with devastating humanitarian consequences. Biden's presence could be seen as a provocative move by Hamas' chief sponsor, Iran, or potentially viewed as tone-deaf by Arab nations as civilian casualties mount in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already been travelling around the Mideast this past week trying to prevent the war with Hamas from igniting a broader regional conflict. The official could not publicly discuss internal deliberations about the potential presidential travel and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

"Biggest mistake if Israel..."

Biden also made his strongest public statements yet to restrain Israel after the October 7 attack that killed more than 1,400 people including at least 30 US citizens, warning in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday that Israel should not reoccupy Gaza.

“I think it'd be a big mistake,” Biden said. “Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas, and the extreme elements of Hamas don't represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.” Israel left Gaza in 2005; Hamas won the elections the next year. Still, Biden said, “taking out the a necessary requirement”.

Biden and his administration officials have refused to criticise Israel or its bombing campaign that has killed civilians in Gaza. But they've urged Israel, Egypt and other nations to allow for humanitarian aid and supplies into the worsening conflict zone.

“I'm confident that Israel is going to act under the rules of war," Biden said in the interview. "There are standards that democratic institutions and countries go by. And I'm confident that there's going to be an ability for the innocents in Gaza to be able to have access to medicine and food and water."

Egypt's President says Israel's operation has exceeded “the right of self-defence” 

Blinken, meanwhile, heard criticism of Israel's military operation from Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. After Cairo he travelled on to Jordan and planned to return to Israel on Monday, carrying to Israeli leaders the feedback he received in a rush of meetings with leaders throughout the Arab world.

Egypt's state-run media said el-Sissi told Blinken that Israel's Gaza operation has exceeded “the right of self-defence” and turned into “a collective punishment”. Blinken told reporters before leaving Egypt that “Israel has the right, indeed it has the obligation to defend itself against these attacks from Hamas and to try to do what it can to make sure that this never happens again”.

Mindful of the potential human cost in Gaza, Blinken said “The way that Israel does this matters. It needs to do it in a way that affirms the shared values that we have for human life and human dignity, taking every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians".

Earlier on Sunday, the envoy met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, talks that built upon earlier sessions with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Blinken said that what he heard in every meeting with Arab leaders “was a determination of shared view that we have to do everything possible to make sure this doesn't spread to other places, a shared view to safeguard innocent lives, a shared view to get assistance to Palestinians in Gaza who need it and we're working very much on that”.

(With inputs from agency)

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