US President Joe Biden said on Friday there has been no shift in his commitment to Israel’s security, but insisted a two-state solution that includes a state for Palestinians remains “the only answer” to that conflict.
Biden spoke at a White House news conference on the first full day of a cease-fire after 11 days of Israeli-Hamas fighting that killed well over 200 people, most of them Palestinians in Gaza.
Biden, speaking at the end of a visit by the president of South Korea, also played down the idea that the newly ended fighting had opened a rift among Democrats, as scores of Democrats split with Biden’s “quiet diplomacy” with ally Israel to publicly demand a cease-fire.
“My party still supports Israel,” Biden said. “Let’s get something straight here,” he added. “Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received a phone call from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken following the cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. Abbas’ office says the two discussed the latest developments in the call on Friday evening. The Palestinian leader urged the Biden administration to pressure Israel to halt the violence in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
The statement said Abbas appreciated US efforts to “provide humanitarian aid and mobilize the international support necessary for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority.”
The US State Department has said that Blinken would visit the region next week “to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians” in the wake of the truce. Blinken and Abbas are to meet during the visit.
The cease-fire was brokered by neighboring Egypt after the U.S. pressed Israel to wind down its campaign on Gaza.
The United Nations has allocated $18.6 million to Gaza for emergency humanitarian needs and plans to launch a flash appeal next week for funds to cover needs over the next three months. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock allocated $4.5 million from the U.N.’s emergency relief fund for Gaza on Friday, following the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants who control the Gaza Strip. Earlier in the week, Lowcock released $14.1 million from the fund.