Washington: US President Joe Biden has expressed his opposition to Israel’s plan to take ‘security responsibility’ for Gaza after the war, saying that it would not be good for Israel or the Palestinians. His statement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel would have to maintain its presence in Gaza for an “indefinite period” to prevent the re-eruption of “Hamas terror”.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that Biden still believes that the recapture of Gaza by Israeli forces is not good. “This will not be good for Israel; it will not be good for the Israeli people… It will not be good for the Palestinian people,” he said.
He said that one of the talks that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is holding in the region is what will be the condition of Gaza after the conflict. “What will governance look like in Gaza? Because whatever happens, it cannot be the same as it was on October 6. Hamas cannot exist here,” he said.
Biden had also said last month that occupying Gaza would be a “big mistake” for Israel. His comments have come amid a growing rift between the US and Israel over the ongoing war, which began on October 7 when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The attack killed hundreds of Israelis and triggered a devastating Israeli response, which has killed thousands of Palestinians, including over 4,000 children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
Israel has imposed a “total blockade” of Gaza, blocking the entry of food, water, medicine, fuel, and electricity. It has also ordered Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza, including Gaza City, and launched a ground invasion of the area. Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Galant said on Tuesday that after the war ends, Israel will “retain full freedom of action to respond to any situation in the Gaza Strip”.
However, the US State Department also made it clear on Tuesday that it does not support the idea of long-term Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. “Our view is that Palestinians should be at the forefront of these decisions and Gaza is Palestinian land and it will remain Palestinian land,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a press conference.
He said that the US agreed that there would be “no return to the status quo of October 6”, referring to the day before the massive attack by Hamas. He said that the US is working with the international community and the Palestinian Authority, which administers the West Bank, to find a solution for Gaza’s future. He also said that the US is providing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza and urging Israel to facilitate its delivery.
Israel captured the Gaza Strip after the six-day war in 1967 but withdrew its troops and settlers in 2005. Later, Hamas gained control of the territory and Israel imposed a blockade on it. The current war is the fourth major conflict between Israel and Hamas since 2008.