WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – As the Israel-Hamas War, which has been raging for three weeks now, enters a new phase that Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu believes could be “long” and “difficult”. US President Joe Biden calls on Israeli and Arab leadership to reflect hard on their post-war reality.
He argues that it’s the one where finding an agreement on a long sought two state solution for the Israel-Palestinian Conflict should be a top priority.
Biden said to reporters that “there’s no going to the status-quo as it was on Oct. 6,” referring to the morning before Hamas militants launched their attack on Israel, which sparked the latest war. Biden, according to the White House, delivered this message directly to Netanyahu in a phone call last week.
Biden added, “It means there must be a vision for what happens next when this crisis ends. In our opinion, it should be a solution based on two states.”
For decades, U.S. Presidents and Middle East Diplomats have been unable to achieve a two-state settlement — in which Israel coexists with an independent Palestinian State. The issue has been pushed to the side since the last American-led attempt at peace talks in 2014 collapsed amid disagreements over Israeli settlements and the release of Palestinian prisoner.
Biden never addressed the issue of Palestinian statehood in his early administration. Biden stated that the “ground was not ripe for new efforts to achieve a permanent peace” during his West Bank visit last year. He also reiterated the U.S.’s long-standing support for Palestinian statehood.
Biden, now that there is a greater concern that the Israel/Hamas conflict could escalate into a wider regional conflict, has started to stress that, once the shooting and bombing stop, the work towards a Palestinian State should not be ignored.
Biden, until recently, had placed far more importance on the normalizing of relations between Israel’s Arab neighbors that his administration viewed as a realistic goal than on restarting talks.
Jake Sullivan was his national security advisor and wrote a long essay shortly before the attack on Oct. 7, which described Biden’s efforts to promote global foreign policy. He made no mention about Palestinian statehood. In a revised version of the Foreign Affairs article, Sullivan stated that the administration is “committed” to a two state solution. White House officials have also said the normalization discussions always included proposals beneficial to the Palestinians.
Biden’s vision of a post-war world is not without obstacles. Israel’s far right government views an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza as impossible. The Palestinian Authority is ineffective and lacks credibility among the West Bank’s population. In the meantime, an upcoming U.S. election in 2024 could make Biden less than ideal as a mediator.
Aaron David Miller was a Middle East adviser to both Democratic and Republican administrations. He said Biden’s recent focus on a “two-state solution” was a “talking point of aspiration.”
He said, “The chances are very, extremely low.” “It is essentially a mission impossible.”
Biden has raised the issue with other leaders in recent days. Biden and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi discussed the issue during a phone call on Sunday.
At the Republican Jewish Coalition Summit in Las Vegas on Saturday, GOP presidential candidates criticized Biden’s Israel policy as well as what they perceived to be a failure of Democrats to condemn antisemitism throughout the United States. Vivek Ramaswamy is a biotech entrepreneur and presidential candidate who believes Israel should be free to give up “the myth” of a two state solution.
According to an anonymous White House official, the White House recognizes that Biden’s call for a two state solution is ambitious and may not be achievable in the short term. The White House is aware that Biden’s calls for a two-state solution are ambitious and may not be achievable in the near term, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity. This official was not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations.
The official stated that Biden and his team believe it’s important to express “hope” as well as make it clear that their administration supports a Palestinian State.
Dennis Ross, who was a peace negotiator for both the George H. W. Bush administration and the Bill Clinton Administration, says it’s important to plan for the future, even if there isn’t a clear end in sight to the current conflict.
Ross said, “You cannot ignore the Palestinians any longer.” It’s not hopeless. “It’s not hopeless when you get past this.”
As the renewed calls for Palestinian Statehood come, Palestinian American groups and Muslim advocacy organizations have expressed frustration at Biden’s continued support of Israel.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said that “this is not about someone’s faith.” It’s about finding an integrated Middle East, one that’s more stable and secure. Israel is better integrated in the region.
Biden expressed his concern over the deteriorating situation of innocent civilians living in Gaza. His insistence on not dictating how Israeli forces conduct their operations may compromise his credibility as a fair broker. In a meeting held at the White House with Biden and his top aides last week, U.S. Muslim leadership urged President Obama to call for a truce.
Participants told Biden, too, that his silence over what they perceived as Israel’s collective punishment against innocent Gazan civilians undermined his standing among Arab Americans and Muslims. This included in states where he could have an impact on the election of 2024.
Biden was also contacted by these people to express their concerns over Biden’s statement that he had “no faith” in the Gaza death counts because they are tabulated and compiled by the Hamas Health Ministry. According to the ministry, more than 8, 000 people have died in Gaza, mainly women and children. On the Israeli side more than 1,400 people died, mostly civilians during the initial Hamas assault.
Rami Nashashibi is the founder of Inner City Muslim Action Network, a Chicago-based organization, and was a participant at the meeting. He said that he told Biden his comments regarding the death tolls in Gaza were “dehumanizing.” Nashashibi also added that the participants had told Biden his remarks were especially unsettling, because Biden has shown great empathy for suffering people throughout his tenure.
Nashashibi stated, “I brought this up with him directly and I believe that others in the room did so as well in a manner that was heard and acknowledged.”
Biden could point to the renewed push for statehood as a sign that he is committed to Palestinian sovereignty. His handling of the Mideast crisis is already threatening his reelection chances in 2024. Any progress Biden makes towards a two state solution will likely require a second-term.
Some Democratic Party officials are concerned that his handling of this war may hurt Biden and the party with Arab American voters, as well as younger voters who according to polls have more sympathy for Palestinian issues than older and centrist Democratic Party voters.
Senior Michigan Democratic Party officials said Biden’s handling the war in the state has already been deemed a “huge problem” and could be made worse if the conflict continues and the death toll increases in Gaza. The official spoke under condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive concerns within the party.
Even before the war, Biden faced a close race in 2024. He won Michigan in 2020 by less than three percentage points, and Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 0.3%. In Michigan, more than 300 000 people with Middle Eastern or North African roots live.
Bernie Porn, an experienced Michigan pollster, said that even if his performance is hurt by a few percentage points, the race will still be very close.