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Biden commits support to Israel, but says Palestinians need aid

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: October 15, 2023 15:03 IST
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President Joe Biden reiterated the United States' unwavering support for Israel and emphasised the need for humanitarian aid for the people of Palestine as he held separate phone calls with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders amid escalating tensions in Gaza, the White House has said.

IMAGE: Demonstrators take part in an 'Emergency Rally: Stand with Palestinians Under Siege in Gaza', amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, October 14, 2023. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

In his first call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas since Hamas' unprecedented assault on Israel a week ago, Biden stressed that the militant group 'does not stand for the Palestinian people's right to dignity and self-determination'.

Biden discussed with Abbas US' efforts to work with the United Nations, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and others to ensure humanitarian supplies reach civilians in Gaza.


The President also called Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his fifth such call Hamas' assault last week.

In both calls, Biden stressed the need to prevent the conflict from expanding.

He spoke to both leaders about coordination with the United Nations, Egypt, Jordan and other countries in the region to ensure access to water, food and medical care for all civilians.

'Abbas briefed Biden on his engagement in the region and his efforts to bring urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza. Biden offered Abbas and the Palestinian Authority his full support for these important and ongoing efforts,' the White House said on Saturday.

'This afternoon, President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu to reiterate unwavering US support for Israel. President Biden updated Prime Minister Netanyahu on US military support and reiterated his warning against anyone seeking to expand the conflict,' it said.

Biden affirmed his support for all efforts to protect civilians, it said.

'As more information comes to light about Hamas' brutal atrocities committed over the past week, Biden reiterated the need for all countries to unequivocally condemn Hamas as a terrorist organisation that does not represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people,' the White House said.

'Finally, President Biden detailed US efforts to coordinate with partners to prevent the conflict from widening, and the two leaders discussed the need to preserve stability in the West Bank and the broader region,' it said about Biden's meeting with Abbas.

The United States has intensified its global engagement amid an imminent Israeli plan to send its foot soldiers to Gaza.

Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out a barrage of air strikes in Southern Israel on last week.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in response launched multiple attacks targeting Hamas' key infrastructure. So far, thousands of people have been killed in Israel and the Gaza Strip in the biggest escalation in decades between the two sides.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Saturday.

'As part of the administration's intensive diplomatic engagements to stand with Israel and condemn the terrorist attacks by Hamas, the Secretary reiterated US support for Israel's right to defend itself and called for an immediate cessation of Hamas' attacks and the release of all hostages,' the State Department said.

During the call, Blinken also discussed the importance of maintaining stability in the region and discouraging other parties from entering the conflict.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday directed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to begin moving to the Eastern Mediterranean.

"As part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas's attack on Israel, the Strike Group includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), guided-missile destroyers USS Gravely (DDG 107) and USS Mason (DDG 87), and Carrier Air Wing 3, with nine aircraft squadrons, and embarked headquarters staffs," Austin said.

The Eisenhower CSG will join the USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group, which arrived earlier this week.

The Ford CSG includes the USS Normandy, USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt.

Earlier in the week, the US Air Force announced deployment to the region of squadrons of F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft, he said.

"The increases to US force posture signal the United States' ironclad commitment to Israel's security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war," Austin said.

Austin spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant to continue consultations on Israel's response to Hamas' attacks, following his visit to Israel a day earlier.

During the call, he underscored the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel's security.

'During the call, he discussed the importance of adhering to the law of war, including civilian protection obligations, and addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza while Israel continues its operations to restore security. Finally, he discussed Hamas' abhorrent taking of civilian hostages,' the Pentagon said in a readout of the call.

Blinken, who is currently in the Middle East, met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh on Saturday.

He highlighted the United States' unwavering focus on halting the attacks by Hamas against Israel.

The two discussed continued engagement with regional partners to prevent the spread of conflict in the region and their shared commitment to taking steps to help protect civilians.

They also resolved to continue to work together to end the devastating conflict in Sudan and secure a lasting peace in Yemen through a UN-mediated Yemeni-Yemeni peace process, said a readout of the call.

Later in the day, he also met United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi to discuss the terrorist attacks on Israel.

"The Secretary expressed appreciation for the UAE's clear condemnation of Hamas' heinous attacks on Israeli civilians and continued diplomatic engagement to prevent the spread of conflict," said a readout of the call.

Blinken and Sheikh Mohammed also discussed their shared commitment to building a more integrated, secure, and prosperous region, and reaffirmed the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, it said.


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