Regional recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a two-state solution are the ways to peace, US President Joe Biden said on Friday.
“Until the region says, unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace,” the president said.
In addition, Biden said: “We still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer.”
Asked at a White House press conference if there has been a change in the Democratic Party’s position on Israel, Biden said: “There is no shift in my commitment… to the security of Israel, period. No shift. Not at all… I think that, you know, my party still supports Israel.”
Biden said that he urged Israel to stop the “inter-communal fighting that has extremes on both sides” in Jerusalem and to ensure that Arab and Jewish Israelis are “treated equally as Israeli citizens.”
The US is going to “provide for security in the West Bank,” along with its renewed economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority, he said, and it will work with other countries to rebuild homes in Gaza without allowing the funds to get to Hamas.
Biden said it is “essential” for PA President Mahmoud Abbas be recognized as the rightful leader of the Palestinians, as opposed to Hamas, which he pointed out is a terrorist organization.
Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke six times over the course of Operation Guardian of the Walls, but Biden would not divulge what was said.
“One of the reasons why we were able to get the ceasefire in 11 days, they didn’t do what other people have done: I don’t talk about what I tell people in private. I don’t talk about what we negotiate in private,” the president said.
However, Biden said he trusts Netanyahu to make the effort to maintain the truce.
“I take Bibi Netanyahu – when he gives me his word, I take him at his word. He’s never broken his word to me,” Biden stated. “The prime minister knows my views… From the very beginning, I told him what our objective was: that there needed to be a ceasefire. And he, in fact, kept his commitment in the time frame in which he said he would do it. Thank you.”
Biden also praised his “great team” that worked with him on urging a cessation of hostilities, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – who is set to visit the region this week – and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who were in frequent contact with their counterparts in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and beyond during the 11 days of fighting.
In addition, Biden remarked on the “commendable job” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi did in getting Hamas to commit to hold fire.
In a press conference on Friday, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked the US for its support for Israel.
“My good friend Biden and I spoke six times in recent days – all the conversations were friendly and warm,” Netanyahu said. “He repeated that the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself… I thank him for his cooperation in manufacturing Iron Dome missiles.”