President Joe Biden is still committed to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday, adding that repairing the structural damage in Gaza and dealing with the humanitarian crisis stemming from the recent outbreak of violence is most important to the administration.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Blinken said Biden “has been very clear that he remains committed to a two-state solution.”
“Look, ultimately, it is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state and, of course, the only way to give the Palestinians the state to which they’re entitled,” he said. “That’s where we have to go.
“But that, I don’t think, is something necessarily for today,” he continued. “We have to start putting in place the conditions that would allow both sides to engage in a meaningful and positive way toward two states.”
Blinken credited Biden’s efforts in the lead-up to the cease-fire between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel, which followed 11 days of fighting that led to more than 200 Palestinian and a dozen Israeli deaths.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has festered for decades, and the latest fighting shows that any long-term resolution may still be far off.
“In the first instance, we have to deal with making this turn from the violence — we have got the cease-fire — and now deal with the humanitarian situation, deal with reconstruction and deepen our existing engagement with Palestinians and with Israelis alike,” he said.
Blinken said the cycle of violence “is likely to repeat itself” if a path forward to help Palestinians “live with more dignity and with more hope” is not reached.
Asked how the U.S. could assist in rebuilding Gaza without directly funding Hamas, Blinken said it would use “independent parties that can help do the reconstruction and the development.”
“Not some quasi-government authority,” he said of Hamas, which he said “has brought nothing but ruin to the Palestinian people.”
“What’s the real challenge here is to help the Palestinians and particularly to help moderate Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority deliver better results for their people,” he said. “And, of course, Israel has a profound role to play in that, too.”