Washington: Israel has the right to respond to the slaughter of its people and it will be ensured that the country has what it needs to defend itself, US President Joe Biden said in a joint news conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Israel has launched a massive counter-offensive against Hamas after unprecedented attacks by the militant group on October 7 killed more than 1,400 people.
‘Israel has the right, and I would add responsibility, to respond to the slaughter of their people, and we will ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself against these terrorists. That’s a guarantee,’ Biden said at the Rose Garden joint news conference with Albanese on Wednesday.
‘We also have to remember that Hamas does not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip or anywhere else. Hamas is hiding behind Palestinian civilians. And it’s despicable and, not surprisingly, cowardly as well,’ Biden said.
This also puts an added burden on Israel while they go after Hamas, ‘but that does not lessen the need to operate and align with the laws of war, for Israel has to do everything in its power — Israel has to everything its power, as difficult as it is, to protect innocent civilians’, the US president said.
Biden also thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for working with the US to make sure that food, water, and medical supplies are getting through to innocent people in Gaza.
The flow needs to increase, he said, adding that the US is working very hard with its partners to make that happen.
At the same time, Biden said that Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live side by side in safety, dignity, and peace. ‘There’s no going back to the status quo as it stood on October the 6th. That means ensuring Hamas can no longer terrorise Israel and use Palestinian civilians as human shields,’ he said.
‘It also means that, when this crisis is over, there has to be a vision of what comes next. In our view, it has to be a two-state solution,’ Biden said.
It means a concentrated effort from all the parties, Israelis, Palestinians, regional partners, global leaders to ‘put us on a path toward peace’, he said.
(Published 26 October 2023, 01:59 IST)