President Joe Biden said on Saturday that achieving a cease-fire amid Israel’s war with Hamas “is not peace” and that an important key to lasting stability is a reunited Gaza Strip and West Bank that can be governed under “a revitalized Palestinian Authority.”
In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, Biden reiterated his position of recent weeks that a temporary halt to the fighting was not a real possibility and would not ultimately advance greater U.S. objectives. The president and top U.S. officials have instead revived talk of working toward a two-state solution for the governance of Gaza.
Biden said that the U.S. was “prepared to take our own steps” to end the war, which has killed more than 13,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis so far, according to health officials. He said that the U.S. was coordinating with Egypt, Qatar, the United Nations and other partners to facilitate a cease-fire, but also to address the underlying causes of the conflict.
Biden said that the U.S. supported Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas’ rocket attacks, but also expressed concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the protection of civilians. He said that the U.S. was providing $110 million in emergency assistance to Gaza, and that it would work with the international community to rebuild the infrastructure and the economy of the enclave.
However, Biden also said that a cease-fire was not enough to end the cycle of violence and to create a lasting peace. He said that the long-term solution was to create a viable and independent Palestinian state that would coexist peacefully with Israel, based on the 1967 borders and with mutually agreed land swaps.
Biden said that such a state would require a unified Palestinian leadership that would represent both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which have been divided since 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA). He said that the PA, which is recognized by most of the world as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, needed to be strengthened and reformed, and that the U.S. was ready to provide assistance and support to that end.
Biden also said that the U.S. was committed to advancing the two-state solution, and that it would resume its diplomatic engagement with both Israel and the Palestinians, as well as with the regional and international partners. He said that the U.S. would work with the UN, the EU, the Arab League and the Quartet (the U.S., the UN, the EU and Russia) to revive the peace process and to implement the relevant UN resolutions.
Biden said that the U.S. and Israel shared a strong and unbreakable bond, but also that the U.S. had a deep and enduring interest in the well-being of the Palestinians. He said that the U.S. would continue to stand for human rights, democracy and justice for all people in the region.
Biden said that the U.S. had a vision of a Middle East that was peaceful, prosperous and free, and that it would work tirelessly to make it a reality. He said that the U.S. would not back down from the challenge of Hamas and other threats, but also that it would not give up on the hope of peace.