Biden offers ‘flexibility’ on Palestinian statehood

“There are a number of types of two-state solutions,” the U.S. president told reporters.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Although U.S. President Joe Biden has been a decades-long proponent of creating a Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel as a way to end the Middle East conflict, he recently indicated that he is not wedded to a particular vision of it.

“There are a number of types of two-state solutions,” he told a press briefing following a lengthy telephone call Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden, and many others in the West, support the idea of having the Palestinian Authority (PA) take control of the Gaza Strip as part of a Palestinian state after Israel defeats Hamas in its ongoing war there with the terrorist organization.

While Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his firm opposition to this, according to CNN, a source “familiar with the conversation” said that the Israeli leader had told Biden that he was actually not completely closing the door to the idea of a future Palestinian state.

The unnamed official said that the “serious” and “detailed” phone meeting dealt in part with possible contours of a such a state, with one of the chief requirements being its inability to threaten the Jewish state militarily.

“There’s a number of countries that are members of the UN that … don’t have their own military,” Biden commented regarding the demilitarization aspect, “a number of states that have limitations, and so I think there’s ways in which this can work.”

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Separately, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told journalists that Biden had an “open mind” regarding what a Palestinian state would look like and understands “the need for some flexibility.” He is also “under no illusions that how difficult it’s going to be to get there, particularly with this conflict going on in Gaza.”

The Prime Minister’s Office felt that it was so important to reject the thought that Netanyahu had weakened in his nationalist posture that it put out a countering statement on the Sabbath, which it rarely does due to government policy of publicly observing the holy day.

“In his conversation with President Biden, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated his policy that after Hamas is destroyed Israel must retain security control over Gaza to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel, a requirement that contradicts the demand for Palestinian sovereignty,” it said in a statement on Saturday.

In November, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had also thrown his support behind the proposal, stating, “We said that we are ready for this state to be demilitarized, and there can also be guarantees of forces, whether NATO forces, United Nations forces, or Arab or American forces, until we achieve security for both states, the nascent Palestinian state and the Israeli state.”

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Experts in the field have argued that it would be impossible for Israel to prevent an internationally-recognized country from importing any weaponry it wanted, even if it was first established without a working army.