Biden urges Netanyahu to end Gaza offensive, warns against reoccupation
President Joe Biden said in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday that an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza would be a “big mistake” and that Hamas, the militant group that controls the Palestinian enclave, should be eliminated “entirely”.
Biden’s comments came as Israel continued its offensive on Gaza, which it launched on October 7 in response to a surprise attack by Hamas that killed 1,300 Israelis and took at least 100 Israelis hostage. Israel said it was targeting Hamas militants and infrastructure, but its air strikes have also hit residential buildings, schools, hospitals and media offices.
According to the latest figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 2,800 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded since Israel launched its offensive. Among the Palestinian casualties, 2,000 are children and 1,400 are women.
A Big Mistake
Asked by CBS news program “60 Minutes” if he would support any occupation of Gaza by the American ally, Biden replied: “I think it’d be a big mistake.” Hamas “don’t represent all the Palestinian people,” he continued.
But invading and “taking out the extremists” is a “necessary requirement,” he added.
Biden said he believes that there should be a path to a Palestinian state, but that it would require both sides to make compromises and end the violence.
“I think there has to be a two-state solution. I think it’s the only way to go forward,” he said. “But it requires both sides to recognize the legitimacy of the other side.”
Biden also said that he supports Israel‘s right to defend itself, but that he has urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid civilian casualties and de-escalate the situation.
“I’ve spoken to Bibi four times since this started,” he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “And I’ve said to him: ‘Look, you’ve got to do everything you can to protect yourself. But you’ve got to be proportional. You’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to try to end this as quickly as possible.'”
Biden said that he has also spoken to several Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Abdullah II of Jordan, to enlist their help in mediating a ceasefire.
He said that he hopes that the UN Security Council, which is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Saturday, will be able to pass a resolution calling for an immediate halt to hostilities.
However, he acknowledged that previous attempts to broker a truce have failed, as both sides have rejected each other’s conditions.
“It’s very difficult,” he said. “But we’re not giving up.”