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Biden: Palestinian state still possible
Published on: Sunday, January 21, 2024
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Biden: Palestinian state still possible
Biden and Netanyahu (right) have often been at loggerheads but the US President has stood firmly behind Israel since October 7.
WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden said that it was still possible Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could agree to some form of Palestinian state, after the two leaders spoke for the first time in nearly a month amid tensions over the Gaza war.

Their call came a day after Netanyahu said he opposes allowing Palestinian sovereignty in the wake of the conflict with Hamas, deepening Israeli divisions with key backer Washington over the conduct of Israel’s offensive and what comes next.

But Biden said after the call that it was not impossible Netanyahu might come round to some form of so-called two-state solution, mooted for decades as a way to end tensions in the Middle East, despite the Israeli premier’s comments.

“There are a number of types of two-state solutions. There’s a number of countries that are members of the UN that... don’t have their own militaries,” Biden told reporters after an event at the White House.

“And so, I think there’s ways in which this could work.”

Asked what Netanyahu was open to, Biden replied: “I’ll let you know.”

Biden and Netanyahu, who have a complicated relationship stretching back some 40 years, last spoke on December 23 and the silence between them since has led to repeated questions about a rift.

The Israeli premier said on Thursday that his country “must have security control over all the territory west of the Jordan (River)” and that he had made this clear to Israel’s “American friends”.

“This is a necessary condition, and it conflicts with the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty,” Netanyahu said in public remarks.

The White House said earlier that Biden had pushed the issue with Netanyahu when they spoke, but said the call had not been in direct response to the Israeli’s comments.

“The president still believes in the promise and the possibility of a two-state solution” for both Israelis and Palestinians, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Biden and Netanyahu have often been at loggerheads in the past, with the Democratic US president last year pressing the right-wing Israeli premier over controversial judicial reforms.

But Biden has stood firmly behind Israel since October 7, even travelling to the country after the attacks, where he publicly embraced Netanyahu and pledged full US support. 

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said that at least 24,927 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since the war with Israel broke out on October 7.

A ministry statement said at least 165 people were killed over the past 24 hours, while another 62,388 have been wounded since the war began. 

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