|A Palestinian woman walks past a destroyed building in the Al-Rimal commercial district in the Gaza City on Saturday. (AFP)|
US President Joe Biden has said a two-state solution was the “only answer” to the Israel-Palestine conflict emphatically reiterating decades-old US policy that had enjoyed an indifferent to no backing from his predecessor, Donald Trump.
On Friday, Biden also made it clear that “there will be no peace” in the region if Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish nation was not acknowledged and accepted.
President Biden was speaking at a joint news briefing with visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a day after Israel and Hamas declared an unconditional ceasefire ending an 11-day conflict, which the United States had helped to resolve through “quiet, relentless diplomacy”.
US efforts included upwards of 80 phone calls made by its officials to their counterparts in the region, and six between Biden and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
During the 11-day conflict, President Biden had come under increasing pressure from within his party, especially progressives who were critical of Israel, to do more. “There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period. No shift, not at all,” Biden said in response to a question if there was a shift in Democratic party, against Israel. “The shift is that we still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer. The only answer,” he added.
“My party still supports Israel,” Biden said, adding, “Let’s get something straight here. Until the region says unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.”
US commitment to a two-state solution - Israel and Palestine to co-exists as two separate countries - had waned considerably under Trump, who had moved the US even closer to Israel by changing several decades old policies, such as recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like,” Trump had said in 2017. And in 2020, he unveiled a peace plan that proposed a “realistic two-state solution”, which made Jerusalem, which is claimed by both sides, the “undivided” capital of Israel.