US President Joe Biden has said that there is no shift in the commitment of his administration towards the security of Israel but insisted a two-state solution that includes a state for Palestinians remains the only answer to that conflict.
Biden's comment comes a day a ceasefire was announced between Israel and Hamas negotiated by Egypt following an 11-day war that caused a lot of casualties and infrastructure damage in Gaza.
There is no shift in my commitment, the commitment to the security of Israel, period, Biden told reporters at a joint news conference along with the visiting South Korean President Moon-Jae-In.
No shift, not at all, but I tell you what there is a shift in. The shift is that we still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer, the only answer. What I'm convinced of is that we can now move, as I did even before I was able to negotiate--well, I shouldn't--before the cease-fire was negotiated, he said.
Biden said his administration is going to make sure that the US is going to provide for security in the West Bank. We renewed the security commitment, as well as an economic commitment to the people on the West Bank, he said.
In his call with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said he indicated to the Israelis it was very important that they stop in Jerusalem this inter-communal fighting that is by extremes on both sides. It has to end.
I'm prepared to put together and attempt to put together a major package with other nations who share our view to rebuilding the homes and without providing Hamas with the opportunity to rebuild their weapons systems, rebuild the Gaza. They need to help, and I'm committed to getting that done, he said.
Responding to a question on the shift on the position of several of his Democratic party lawmakers, Biden asserted that his party still supports Israel. Let's get something straight here. Until the region says unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace, Biden said.
Biden hoped that Netanyahu would abide by his commitment of ceasefire. I'm praying this cease-fire will hold. I take Bibi Netanyahu when he gives me his word; I take him at his word. He's never broken his word to me, he said. What I've made clear is that it is essential. It's essential that the Palestinians on the West Bank be secure; that Abbas be recognised as the leader of the Palestinian people, which he is; Hamas is a terrorist organisation, we've recognised that, Biden added.
But that doesn't mean we should not be in Gaza, rebuilding Gaza for all those innocent people who in fact have been hurt and had collateral damage, including loss of homes and a whole range of other things.
As well as insisting that Israeli citizens, whether they be Arab or Jew, are treated equally, Israeli citizens. That was what was going on in Jerusalem. That has to come to an end, said the president.