Biden Warns Israel To not Occupy Gaza

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President Biden warned Israel in an interview aired on Sunday to not reoccupy Gaza, his first vital public effort to restrain America’s ally within the wake of the Hamas assault that killed greater than 1,300 folks, together with not less than 29 Individuals.

Mr. Biden has provided staunch help for Israel for the reason that Oct. 7 assault and refused to criticize Israel for its retaliatory siege of Gaza, the coastal enclave managed by Hamas, at the same time as U.N. officers have warned of a humanitarian disaster there. However within the new interview, he cautioned in opposition to a full-scale occupation of Gaza.

“I believe it’d be an enormous mistake,” Mr. Biden advised “60 Minutes” on CBS in a dialog taped on Thursday and aired on Sunday night time. “Look, what occurred in Gaza, in my opinion, is Hamas and the intense components of Hamas don’t signify all of the Palestinian folks. And I believe that it could be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza once more.” However “taking out the extremists” there, he added, “is a mandatory requirement.”

The president’s feedback got here as he was contemplating whether or not to go to Israel within the coming days to show solidarity with Israelis nonetheless reeling from the Hamas assault. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prolonged the invitation to the president over the weekend, in line with an administration official, confirming a report on Israeli tv, however Mr. Biden has not determined but whether or not to go presently.

Within the “60 Minutes” interview, Mr. Biden didn’t explicitly say whether or not Israel ought to ship floor forces into Gaza briefly. However he endorsed the objective of destroying Hamas, an organization whose founding covenant embraces “killing the Jews” and wiping out Israel. The USA and European Union have designated Hamas a terrorist group.

“Israel has to reply,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “They must go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians. They put their headquarters the place civilians are and buildings and the like.” However he mentioned he was satisfied that “the Israelis are going to do every little thing of their energy to keep away from the killing of harmless civilians.”

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas received elections the subsequent yr. The group seized full management of the enclave and pushed out extra average Palestinian leaders like these operating the Palestinian Authority within the West Financial institution. Over the previous 18 years, Hamas and its extra radical counterparts have every now and then staged assaults on Israel, prompting a number of temporary wars. Israeli forces, which blockade Gaza, re-entered the territory on the bottom in 2009 and 2014 however opted to not keep in each instances.

Many navy analysts have mentioned {that a} floor offensive into Gaza and the ensuing city warfare could possibly be extraordinarily harmful for Israeli forces and Palestinian civilians alike. However after the deadliest assault on Israel in a long time, Israeli leaders argue that they can not merely reply with the standard airstrikes, they usually have resolved to crush Hamas as soon as and for all. Israel has mobilized 360,000 reservists and assembled appreciable forces close to Gaza in preparation for what’s broadly anticipated to be an invasion.

Even earlier than any floor offensive, Israeli airstrikes and its choice to chop off meals, water and different provides have created what worldwide help organizations have referred to as a humanitarian disaster. A minimum of 2,670 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, in line with the Palestinian Well being Ministry in Gaza, and an extra 9,600 have been wounded.

Mr. Biden has refused to criticize Israel and mentioned repeatedly that it had a proper to defend itself from what he referred to as “sheer evil.” Within the “60 Minutes” interview, he expressed concern over the humanitarian scenario and mentioned he favored making a secure hall for Palestinians to flee the preventing and to permit in provides. However he didn’t body these feedback as vital of Israel.

“I’m assured that Israel goes to behave underneath” the “guidelines of warfare,” he mentioned. “There’s requirements that democratic establishments and international locations go by. And so I’m assured that there’s going to be a capability for the innocents in Gaza to have the ability to have entry to drugs and meals and water.”

Requested if he agreed that Hamas have to be eradicated completely, Mr. Biden mentioned, “Sure, I do. However there must be a Palestinian Authority. There must be a path to a Palestinian state.”

Scott Pelley, the interviewer, requested the president whether or not, given the wars in Ukraine and now the Center East, together with the dysfunction in Congress, he nonetheless wished to run for a second time period.

“Sure,” Mr. Biden answered, saying he nonetheless had large initiatives to pursue and citing his negotiations to determine regular diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a objective that appears imperiled after the Hamas assault. “Think about if we have been in a position to reach getting the Center East put in place the place we have now normalization of relations,” he mentioned. “I believe we are able to do this.”

And he added: “Think about what occurs if we, in reality, united all of Europe and Putin is lastly put down the place he can’t trigger the type of hassle he’s been inflicting. We’ve got huge alternatives, huge alternatives to make it a greater world.”

David E. Sanger contributed reporting.