President Biden said in a new interview that it would be a “big mistake” if Israel once again occupied Gaza as it fights the militant group Hamas following an attack and subsequent war that has left thousands dead.
“I think it’d be a big mistake,” Biden said when asked by CBS’s Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” if he would support Israeli occupation of Gaza at this point of the war. Gaza has been under heavy bombardment by Israel, and Israel is expected to launch a ground offensive soon.
“Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that … it would be a mistake … for Israel to occupy … Gaza again,” Biden added. “But going in but taking out the extremists — the Hezbollah is up north but Hamas down south — is a necessary requirement.”
Israel formally withdrew its military presence as well as its settlements from inside Gaza in 2005. The enclave had been controlled by the Palestinian Authority before that following the Oslo accords.
The year after Israel withdrew from the territory, Hamas was elected to govern the area. No elections have been held in Gaza since.
Israeli armed forces have launched a counteroffensive against Hamas, which currently governs Gaza, after Hamas launches a deadly and brutal attack against Israel last weekend. Since then, the war has claimed more than 3,600 lives across Israel and Gaza.
Israel has called for 1 million people in Gaza to evacuate to its southern end. U.S. officials said Sunday they have been working to assist Americans looking to leave the Gaza Strip and the West Bank but that no Americans have been able get out that they know of.
Biden filmed the interview with CBS on Friday and it aired Sunday. Pelley, in seeking answers about any potential political future for Gaza, asked the president if he believes Hamas must be eliminated entirely.
“Yes, I do. But there needs to be a Palestinian Authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state,” Biden said.
Biden has long supported a two-state solution in the Middle East. However, he this week that he doesn’t believe Israel would pursue that option after what’s occurred over the last week.
“Not now. Not now. Not now,” Biden said. “But I think Israel understands that a significant portion of Palestinian people do not share the views of Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Source: The Hill