Last Updated: November 08, 2023, 07:33 IST
Washington D.C., United States of America (USA)
A top White House official has said that US President Joe Biden doesn’t believe Israeli forces should reoccupy Gaza after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks that the country will have the “overall security responsibility” in the besieged enclave for an “indefinite period” after the war ends.
“The president still believes that a reoccupation of Gaza by Israeli forces is not good. It’s not good for Israel; not good for the Israeli people,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN. “One of the conversations that Secretary (Antony) Blinken has been having in the region is what does post-conflict Gaza look like? What does governance look like in Gaza? Because whatever it is it can’t be what it was on October 6. It can’t be Hamas,” he added.
The US warning comes after Netanyahu on Monday said that Gaza should be governed by “those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas” before adding, “I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” he told ABC News.
Last month, Biden had said it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza. These remarks come as there are gaps emerging between the US and Israel as the war passes the one-month mark. Last week, Blinken pushed the Israelis for a “humanitarian pause” to allow hostages and civilians to leave Gaza and for aid for Palestinians to enter. On Tuesday, Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel will “retain complete freedom of action to respond to any situation in the Gaza Strip” once the war ends.
‘Palestinian land will remain Palestinian land’
The State Department also made it clear on Tuesday that it does not support the idea of a prolonged Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. “Our viewpoint is that Palestinians must be at the forefront of these decisions and Gaza is Palestinian land and it will remain Palestinian land,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters during a press conference. “Generally speaking, we do not support the reoccupation of Gaza and neither does Israel. Secretary (of State Antony) Blinken was fairly clear about that during his travels as well,” he said.
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, which it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, in 2005. It later imposed a blockade after Hamas militants seized control of the territory. Patel said that the United States agreed “there is no returning to the October 6 status quo,” referring to the day before a massive attack by Hamas. “Israel and the region must be secure and Gaza should and can no longer be a base from which to launch terror attacks against the people of Israel or anyone else,” Patel said.
The US and its Western allies have been telling their Israeli counterparts for weeks that Israel should have clear objectives when it comes to degrading Hamas and should seek to avoid a long-term occupation of the Gaza Strip, according to CNN. Despite the apparent gaps between his administration and the Israeli government, Biden reiterated support for Israel during a call with Netanyahu on Monday, the top White House official said.
“One of the things that the president made clear to the prime minister is that we’re going to continue to stand with Israel. We’re going to continue to make sure that they have the security assistance they need, the tools, the weapons, the capabilities to go after Hamas. That hasn’t changed since October 7 and it’s not going to change going forward,” he added.