US President Joe Biden has defended Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas and has said that the Gaza Strip, which Hamas has ruled for the past 16 years, should never be allowed to be used as a platform for terrorism.
At the same time, Biden said that there needs to be roadmap for the realisation of the two-state solution to resolve the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The two-state solution envisions the co-existence of a Jewish State of Israel and an Arab State of Palestine side-by-side in the conflict-torn region.
Biden made these remarks in an op-end published in The Washington Post newspaper. Amid divisions among his Democrat lawmakers and constituents, he made the case for continued US support to Israel in its war against Hamas. He also stated that the US support to Israel was in the US national security interests. Even as he faces opposition from some hardline Republicans, Biden made the case for support to Ukraine as well and put Hamas and equated Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighboring democracy off the map. And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder. America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world...The world looks to us to solve the problems of our time. That is the duty of leadership, and America will lead. For if we walk away from the challenges of today, the risk of conflict could spread, and the costs to address them will only rise. We will not let that happen," wrote Biden in The Post.
The Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 and killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians. The dead included at least 35 US nationals as well. The Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation, attacked Israel as thousands of rockets rained all over the country. Following the Hamas attack, which dealt the nation worst single-day toll since the Holocaust, Israel began a bombing campaign in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and launched a ground operation too last month. While several Hamas leaders and facilities have been taken down, widespread civilian casualties have also been reported and around 1.5 million Palestinians have been displaced amid widespread damaged to the infrastructure in the Palestinian enclave. Hamas-run Gazan authorities say over 12,000 have been included, with the majority being women and children.
While supporting the Israeli war against Hamas, Biden also said international humanitarian law must be respected and civilian casualties must be minimised. He also said that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop. This refers to the settlers in Israeli settlements in West Bank, deemed illegal in international law, engaging in violence against the Palestinians.
"I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable. The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank," said Biden.
Saying "we are firmly with the Israeli people", Biden also described the killings and violence carried out by Hamas in Israel. Speaking of the hostages, at least 240 of whom are in captivity in Gaza, Biden said his administration is doing "everything we can to get the hostages released".
"Infants and toddlers, mothers and fathers, grandparents, people with disabilities, even Holocaust survivors were maimed and murdered. Entire families were massacred in their homes. Young people were gunned down at a music festival. Bodies riddled with bullets and burned beyond recognition. And for over a month, the families of more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas, including babies and Americans, have been living in hell, anxiously waiting to discover whether their loved ones are alive or dead," said Biden.
In the op-ed, Biden rejected calls for ceasefire, saying that it would not bring peace but would only embolden Hamas. Notably, following the October 7 attack, Hamas has said that it would repeatedly carry out such attacks. The group, backed by Iran, is committed to the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a singular Arab State of Palestine once Israel has been eradicated.
"As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a cease-fire is not peace. To Hamas’s members, every cease-fire is time they exploit to rebuild their stockpile of rockets, reposition fighters and restart the killing by attacking innocents again. An outcome that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza would once more perpetuate its hate and deny Palestinian civilians the chance to build something better for themselves," said Biden.
Outlining the post-Hamas future of Gaza, Biden said that the international community must be committed to put resources into use, including the potential deployment of security personnel as an interim measure. The final step, however, has to the takeover of Gaza by a revamped Palestinian Authority (PA), which currently partially governs West Bank, said Biden, adding that the only solution is to have a road that leads to the realisation to the two-state solution.
Mentioning India, Biden said that the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) is part of the efforts to integrate the region better. Recalling a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weeks before the October 7 attack, Biden wrote, "The main subject of that conversation was a set of substantial commitments that would help both Israel and the Palestinian territories better integrate into the broader Middle East. That is also the idea behind the innovative economic corridor that will connect India to Europe through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, which I announced together with partners at the Group of 20 summit in India in early September."
Biden's article comes at a time when there are growing calls for a ceasefire and Biden administration has faced flak for the continuation of support to Israel. Sections of the staffers, Democrat lawmakers, and several traditional constituents have been opposed to Israeli war against Hamas. So far, while the United States has supported Israel, it has also pressed for much more aid to Palestinians and the minimisation of human casualties. It is understood that Israel launched a narrower ground operation in northern Gaza instead of full-fledged ground invasion at US suggestion and also similarly opened water pipelines and allowed more aid into the besieged Palestinian enclave.