December 1, 2023

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Biden pledges solidarity with Israelis and suggests "another team" to blame for Gaza hospital explosion

Biden pledges solidarity with Israelis and suggests “another team” to blame for Gaza hospital explosion

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – The President Joe Biden He pledged to show the world that the United States stands in solidarity with the Israelis during his visit there on Wednesday, and offered an assessment of that A deadly explosion in a hospital in the Gaza Strip It appears that the Israeli army did not implement it.

“Based on what I saw, it looks as if it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting. But he said there were “a lot of people” who were unsure about the cause of the explosion, which sparked protests across the Middle East.

Biden did not provide details about why he believed the Israelis were not responsible for the explosion, and the White House did not immediately clarify its assessment.

“The whole world was rightfully angry, but this anger should not be directed at Israel but at the terrorists,” Netanyahu said during a subsequent meeting with Biden and Israel’s war cabinet.

Biden was scheduled to visit Jordan to meet Arab leaders after his stop in Israel, but the summit was canceled after the hospital explosion. His statements spoke of the atrocities suffered by Israelis, as well as the growing humanitarian crisis for Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

He told Netanyahu that he was “deeply saddened and angry” over the hospital explosion. He stressed that “Hamas does not represent all of the Palestinian people. It brought them nothing but suffering.

Biden spoke of the need to find ways to “encourage the ability to save lives to help innocent Palestinians caught in the middle of this situation.”

But he also said that Hamas “slaughtered” Israelis in the October 7 attack that killed 1,400 people. Biden described at length the atrocities of killing innocent Israelis, including children.

“Americans are sad, they really are,” Biden said. “Americans are worried.”

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“I want you to know that you are not alone. We will continue to support Israel as you work to defend your people,” Biden said during the expanded meeting with Netanyahu and Israeli officials. “We will continue to work with you and our partners across the region to prevent further tragedies for innocent civilians.”

Netanyahu thanked Biden for coming to Israel, and told him that the visit was “very touching.”

“I know that I speak on behalf of all the people of Israel when I say thank you, Mr. President, thank you for standing with Israel today, tomorrow and always.”

Netanyahu said Biden drew a clear line between “the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism,” saying that Israel is united in its determination to defeat Hamas.

“The civilized world must unite to defeat Hamas,” he said.

Biden also planned to meet with Israeli first responders, families of victims and those held hostage by Hamas. Netanyahu met Biden at Ben Gurion International Airport and the two embraced. That was almost exactly a month ago They sat together at the United Nations General AssemblyNetanyahu marveled that “historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia” seemed within reach.

The possibility of improving relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors appears to be diminishing; Israel is preparing for a possible ground invasion of Gaza in response to Hamas attacks.

Nearly 2,800 Palestinians were killed in Israeli raids on Gaza. There are 1,200 other people It is believed to be buried under the rubbleHealth authorities said, dead or alive.

These numbers predate the explosion in Al-Ahly Hospital Tuesday. No clear cause of the explosion was determined.

Protests swept the region After the explosion that occurred in the hospital that was treating wounded Palestinians and housing a larger number of those who were seeking shelter to escape the fighting.

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Hundreds of Palestinians poured into the streets of major West Bank cities, including Ramallah. More people joined protests in Beirut, Lebanon, and Amman, Jordan, where an angry crowd gathered outside the Israeli embassy.

The anger foiled Biden’s plans to visit Jordan, where King Abdullah II was scheduled to host meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. But Abbas withdrew in protest, and the summit was later cancelled.

Ayman Safadi, Jordanian Foreign Minister, told the state television network that the war is “pushing the region to the brink of the abyss.”

Jordan declared three days of mourning after the hospital explosion, and Al-Safadi said that the summit was canceled after speaking with all the leaders. He said they wanted the meeting to result in an end to the war, which now seems unlikely, and to give the Palestinians the respect they deserve. Kirby said Biden understood the move was part of a “mutual” decision to cancel the Jordan portion of his trip. He said that Biden will speak with Arab leaders by phone upon his return to Washington.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, said on Tuesday that Biden “is able to say to Israel: Enough.”

“You must stop this massacre against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Let this stop. Let the humanitarian aid take place.” “Do not displace two million Palestinians and push them towards Jordan, and then let us begin a political horizon.”

There are also concerns about the possibility of a new front breaking out along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah is active. The organization was supported by Iran Clashes with Israeli forces.

A lifelong believer in the power of personal diplomacy, Biden’s trip will test the limits of American influence in the Middle East at a volatile time. This is his second trip to the conflict zone this year, after his visit to Ukraine last February to show solidarity with the country fighting the Russian invasion.

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The visit to Israel coincides with increasing humanitarian concerns in Gaza, as Israel has cut off the flow of food, fuel and water. Mediators are struggling to break the deadlock over providing supplies to desperate civilians, aid groups and hospitals.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has been going back and forth between the Arab and Israeli leadership ahead of Biden’s visit, spent seven and a half hours at a meeting Monday in Tel Aviv trying to broker some kind of aid agreement and came away with a green light to develop a plan on how aid will enter Gaza and be distributed. On civilians.

Although it is only a modest achievement on the surface, US officials stressed that Blinken’s talks led to a significant change in Israel’s position – that Gaza will remain cut off from fuel, electricity, water and other basic supplies.

US officials said it had become clear that the already limited Arab tolerance for Israeli military operations would evaporate completely if conditions in Gaza worsened.

Their analysis predicted that an explicit condemnation of Israel by Arab leaders would not only be a boon for Hamas, but would likely encourage Iran to intensify its anti-Israel activity, raising fears of a potential regional conflagration, according to four officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. About its identity to discuss internal management thinking.

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Long reported from Washington. Associated Press Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Associated Press Writer Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; Chris Megarian, Will Weissert and Darlene Superville in Washington; Edith M. Lederer in New York contributed to this report.