US President Joe Biden, for the first time, urged the international community on Saturday to help manage the security of the Gaza Strip for an interim period after the war, to be followed eventually by Palestinian Authority governance.
In a Washington Post op-ed, he also threatened to slap entry bans on violent Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians in the West Bank.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told during a press conference of Biden’s call for the Palestinian Authority to ultimately govern Gaza, said the PA in its current form was “not fit” to do so.
For his part, the PA’s President, Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel of carrying out ‘genocide” in Gaza.
“The international community must commit resources to support the people of Gaza in the immediate aftermath of this crisis, including interim security measures,” Biden wrote in the article, which sought to rally support for his administration’s policy on the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.
Biden said the international community should “establish a reconstruction mechanism to sustainably meet Gaza’s long-term needs,” and said it was “imperative that no terrorist threats ever again emanate from Gaza or the West Bank.”
The US president also reaffirmed his commitment to the two-state solution as “the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people” and said that “though right now it may seem like that future has never been further away, this crisis has made it more imperative than ever.”
“As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution,” he wrote.
In his op-ed, Biden pointed to the United States as the “essential nation” in rallying countries against both Hamas and Russia, which he cast as a threat to democracy and global security.
“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,” he wrote.
The Biden administration’s vision of eventual PA governance of Gaza, and its efforts to rally Arab allies to help manage the Strip’s security in the interim, have been resisted by Netanyahu, who has said that Israel will maintain overall security responsibility for Gaza and will not hand it over to “international forces.”
On Saturday night, he said the PA in its current form “is not fit” to run the enclave, noting that Abbas had yet to condemn the October 7 massacres, while some of his ministers “are celebrating what happened.”
Netanyahu said Israel and the US are agreed on destroying Hamas and returning the hostages. “And I believe that we will ultimately reach agreement on this too: that it is impossible to put in Gaza a civil government that supports terrorism, encourages terrorism, finances terrorism and educates for terrorism.”
Biden’s proposal was also rejected Saturday by Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi who told the Manama Security Forum on Saturday that “no Arab troops” would be deployed in Gaza after the war, as Amman’s ties with Jerusalem deteriorate further.
Extremist settler violence ‘must stop’
In the op-ed, Biden also threatened to issue visa bans against the perpetrators of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, which has spiked since the beginning of the war.
As many as seven Palestinians have been killed by extremist settlers, although the circumstances of some of those incidents are not clear and an exact determination as to whether these individuals were killed by gunfire from settlers or Israeli security forces has not been possible.
According to the left-wing Yesh Din rights group, there have been more than 185 settler attacks against Palestinians in over 84 towns and villages around the territory since October 7.
While much of Biden’s article rehashed stances that the US has been voicing for weeks, the threat regarding visa bans appears to be new.
“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,” Biden wrote.
“The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank,” he said.
Later on Saturday, Abbas called on Biden to use his international influence to halt Israel’s offensive in Gaza, calling it a “genocide.”
“History will not absolve anyone of these crimes. I call on you to provide relief to our besieged people in Gaza. This war must stop immediately. How can this genocide be self-defense? In reality, this genocide is a war crime that warrants punishment,” he said.
“I also call on you to urgently intervene to stop the attacks by Israeli forces and the continuous terrorism by settlers against our people in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which foreshadow an imminent explosion,” he said.
War erupted last month following Hamas’s shock October 7 invasion of southern Israeli communities under cover of thousands of rockets, when thousands of terrorists killed about 1,200 people, a majority of them civilians of all ages in their homes and people at an outdoor music festival near Kibbutz Re’im. Terrorists also kidnapped some 240 people and took them to Gaza.
Israel launched an air and ground offensive with the goal of eliminating the terror group.
According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health authorities, 12,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, two-thirds of them women and minors. Those figures cannot be independently verified, and Hamas has been accused of inflating them and of designating gunmen in their late teens as children. It is not known how many among its total are combatants, and how many among the dead were victims of misfired rockets aimed at Israel.