Washington – President Joe Biden yesterday pledged humanitarian and reconstruction aid for Gaza as he hailed a deal to end 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas in which he was criticised by fellow Democrats for not speaking out more forcefully against Israeli actions.
Biden, appearing briefly at the White House after news of the ceasefire agreement, also promised to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.
“We remain committed to work with the United Nations and other international stakeholders to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for the people in Gaza and in the Gaza reconstruction efforts,” Biden said.
Biden said reconstruction aid for Gaza would be provided in partnership with the Palestinian Authority and not Hamas, which the United States labels a terrorist organisation.
But the Palestinian Authority, which is run by moderate President Mahmoud Abbas, governs only part of the occupied West Bank, while Hamas holds sway in the Gaza Strip.
Biden also used his remarks to defend his approach to handling the crisis after many Democratic lawmakers urged him to adjust his stance defending Israel’s right to self-defense and voiced displeasure with what they viewed as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks.
The president said he had six phone calls with Netanyahu and had also spoken to Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. His top aides made dozens of contacts with other officials in the Gulf.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said.
“My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that end. I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I am committed to working for it,” he said. ― Reuters