US President Joe Biden and Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrive to hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on Oct. 25, 2023.
WASHINGTON ― President Joe Biden on Tuesday demanded an end to attacks by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, comparing that violence to “pouring gasoline on fire,” in his first remarks on the topic since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the militant group Hamas and Israel’s subsequent air strikes in Gaza.
“I continue to be alarmed about extremist settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank ― pouring gasoline on fire is what it’s like,” Biden said in opening remarks at a joint Rose Garden news conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. “They’re attacking Palestinians in places that they’re entitled to be and it has to stop. They have to be held accountable and it has to stop now.”
Biden has long supported a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes in the region along the western bank of the Jordan River by Israeli “settlers” over the decades has made that prospect increasingly difficult.
He nevertheless said on Tuesday that remains the United States’ goal. “When this crisis is over, there has to be a vision of what comes next, and in our view, it has to be a two-state solution,” Biden said. “It means a concentrated effort from all the parties — Israelis, Palestinians regional partners, global leaders — to put us on a path toward peace.”
In his remarks, he again called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure that innocent Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip are safeguarded as Israel continues its military response there to root out Hamas operatives.
“Hamas does not represent ― we say it again, Hamas does not represent ― the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip or anywhere else,” Biden said. “Hamas is hiding behind Palestinian civilians, and it’s despicable and, not surprisingly, cowardly as well. This also puts an added burden on Israel while they go after Hamas, but that does not lessen the need for it to operate in line with the laws of war.”