President Joe Biden
insisted Friday that there has been “no shift” in the United States’ support for Israel
’s security, as progressive Democrats
call for a tougher stance in response to Israel’s mistreatment and killing of Palestinians
During a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a reporter asked Biden if he saw “a shift in evolution in your party” on the issue of Israel and the Palestinian people
“There is no shift in my commitment to Israel’s security, period,” Biden said, adding that a “two-state solution” was the “only answer.”
Biden stated that he spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and told him that the US would “provide security” in the West Bank
, as well as that he told Israelis to “stop in Jerusalem
this inter-communal fighting, with extremes on both sides — it has to end.”
The president stated that he would “attempt to put together” a package of assistance with other countries to rebuild homes in Gaza
destroyed by Israeli airstrikes
“without providing Hamas
with the ability to rebuild their weapons system,” adding that civilians in Gaza “need the help.”
“I believe my party still supports Israel,” Biden said, adding, “Let me be clear: there will be no peace until the region unequivocally recognizes Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state.”
Following 11 days of conflict, Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire on Thursday. During the recent violence, more than 240 Palestinians, including 66 children
, were killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and more than 20 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, according to local officials, while Hamas rockets killed 12 Israelis, including two children.
Throughout the conflict, Biden and other US leaders issued statements affirming support for Israel's "right to defend itself" and condemning Hamas rocket attacks, but making no mention of the disproportionate death toll
for Palestinians, nor did Biden mention the events that preceded the escalation of violence: the planned eviction
of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in E. Jordan.
When asked about some Democrats' shift in unwavering support for Israel, President Joe Biden tells @maryaliceparks, "there is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel, period." "The shift is that we still need a two-state solution, it is the only answer." https://t.co/IC7f6xBLVS
pic.twitter.com/Vha5oOobVo — ABC News Politics
Progressive Democrats have become more critical of Israel in recent weeks, with some calling for the United States to impose conditions on military
aid to the country.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
(D-NY) introduced legislation earlier this week to prevent the United States from selling $735 million worth of arms to Israel.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib
(D-Mich.), a Palestinian American, took to the House
floor last week with other progressive lawmakers to condemn how Palestinians were “being killed while the world watched,” as well as to criticize US leaders for failing to recognize Palestinians’ suffering at the hands of Israel.
“No child, Palestinian or Israeli, whoever they are, should ever have to fear that death will rain from the sky,” Tlaib said. “How many of my colleagues are willing to say the same, to stand for Palestinian human rights
as they do for Israeli?”
Another reporter asked Biden during Friday's press conference if he expected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
to "bolster the rights of the Palestinian people in some way."
Biden responded by saying that he is "hoping" the cease-fire will hold and that Netanyahu has "never broken his word" to him.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization,” Biden said, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be in Gaza, rebuilding Gaza for all those innocent people who have been hurt and have been collateral damage, from the loss of homes to a variety of other things.”