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Biden says Hamas attacked Israel to stop historic agreement with Saudi Arabia

Israeli PM Netanyahu had told Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month that under the US President's leadership, Israel can forge a "historic peace with Saudi Arabia".

Ashesh Mallick Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 Washington Published on: October 21, 2023 7:30 IST
Joe Biden, Benjamin Netanyahu, US, Israel
Image Source : AP US President Joe Biden with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Washington: US President Joe Biden on Friday (October 20) cited one of the reasons behind Hamas’ attack on Israel and said that it was to stop the country from normalising relations with Saudi Arabia which “wanted to recognise Israel”.

“One of the reasons Hamas moved on Israel … they knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis,” Biden said at a fundraising event.

The US president said that he thought Hamas militants launched a deadly assault on October 7 as, “Guess what? The Saudis wanted to recognise Israel” and were near being able to formally do so.

Israel, a Jewish country and Saudi Arabia, a prominent voice among the Muslim countries, have been steadily making moves to normalising their ties with Biden working to help them do so by bringing both of them together. One of such plans was the announcement at the G20 Summit in New Delhi in September to partner on a shipping corridor in the form of India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

“I think that under your leadership, Mr President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told Biden when both leaders met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.

Saudis advocate for Palestinian rights

Saudi Arabia had been advocating the protection and expanded rights for Palestinian interests as part of any broader agreement with Israel.

An agreement between both nations would have been a feat of diplomacy that could have enabled broader recognition of Israel by other Arab and Muslim-majority nations that have largely opposed Israel since its creation 75 years ago in territory where Palestinians have long resided.

Hamas attacks Israel

Talks between Israel and Saudi were interrupted after Hamas crossed over from the blockaded Gaza Strip where Palestinians live to the Israeli territory and carried out attacks in nearby Israeli towns on a major Jewish holiday.

Israel declared war on Hamas and retaliated with airstrikes targeting Hamas hideouts. So far, nearly 1,400 Israelis and 4,137 Palestinians have been killed.

Hamas also captured more than 200 people as hostages after the initial assault.

What is happening in Gaza?

Meanwhile, things have reached a desperate point in Gaza due to relentless strikes by Israel. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered ground troops to prepare to see Gaza “from the inside”, signalling a possible ground assault. 

Gaza’s overwhelmed hospitals tried to stretch out diminishing medical supplies and fuel for generators, as authorities worked out logistics for a desperately needed aid delivery from Egypt. Biden on Wednesday announced $100 million for humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank. 

Hamas also claimed that an Israeli airstrike struck a hospital in Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians. However, Israel denied the claims, claiming that it was a result of a rocket misfire by a Palestinian militant group. Biden, in a joint presser with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and accused "other team" responsible for the airstrike that is claimed to have killed at least 500 people and children.

(With AP inputs)

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