Biden: Military operation in Rafah should not proceed without credible plan

[13-02-2024 10:46 AM]

Ammon News - US President Joe Biden said, on Monday, that the United States is working to open the Rafah crossing, and insists that it remain open, to bring aid into the Gaza Strip.

Biden added, during press statements with His Majesty King Abdullah II, that the return of hostages in Gaza is a priority for the United States.

"Not only do we pray for peace, we are actively working for peace, security, and dignity for both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. And I’m working on this day and night," Biden added.

He pointed out that he discussed with His Majesty the King a deal to exchange hostages that guarantees a humanitarian truce in Gaza for at least six weeks.

He pointed out that life in Gaza has become a tragedy, stressing that the the major military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible plan.

The United States oppose any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, the President stated.

Biden also noted that he made phone calls with the Qataris and Egyptians to reach an agreement regarding the hostages.

Regarding the American response to armed groups in Iraq and Syria, the President confirmed that their response would continue.

Hundreds of thousands in Gaza have no access to food, water, or other basic services, Biden said.

Below is the full statement by the US President according to the White House:

Good afternoon. Let me start by welcoming His Majesty, the King of Jordan. He’s been a good friend. Abdullah, welcome back to the White House, man. Welcome back. And, by the way, Barack is looking at you in the corner over there.

And along with Qree- — Queen Riana [Rania], who is meeting with Jill now, and the Queen — and the Crown Prince Hussein. Where — is the Prince out here? I thought he was coming out. Any rate.

We’ve known each other for many years. And His Majesty has been a good friend all those years, a steadfast partner alongside the Queen, and a beloved leader to their people. The partnership between the United States and our ally Jordan is strong and it is enduring.

Today, the King and I discussed with our senior foreign policy staffs what — the issue that’s front and center in the Middle East and well beyond: the war between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas. Over four months ago, on October the 7th, Hamas attacked Israel in an act of sheer evil, massacring more than 1,200 innocent women, men, and children — the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

More than 250 hostages were taken. A hundred and thirty-four are still being held hostage by Hamas. We don’t know how many are still alive. The anguish that their families are enduring week after week, month after month is unimaginable. And it’s a top priority for the United States to bring them home.

I’ve made clear the United States shares the goal of seeing Hamas defeated and ensuring long-term security for Israel and its people.

After the October 7th attacks, Hamas retreated back into Gaza, where its leaders live in underground tunnels, stretching for over 100 miles beneath civilian infrastructure, including — including schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods.

The past four months, as the war has raged, the Palestinian people have also suffered unimaginable pain and loss. Too many — too many of the over 27,000 Palestinians killed in this conflict have been innocent civilians and children, including thousands of children. And hundreds of thousands have no access to food, water, or other basic services.

Many families have lost not just one but many relatives and cannot mourn for them or even bury them because it’s not safe to do so. It’s heart-breaking.

Every innocent life [lost] in Gaza is a tragedy, just as every innocent life lost in Israel is a tragedy as well. We pray for those lives taken — both Israeli and Palestinian — and for the grieving families left behind.

Not only do we pray for peace, we are actively working for peace, security, and dignity for both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. And I’m working on this day and night with the King and others in the region to find the means to bring all these hostages home, to ease the humanitarian crisis, and to end the terror threat and to bring peace to Gaza and Israel — an enduring peace with a two-state solution for two peoples.

As the King and I discussed today, the United States is working on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, which would bring immediate and sustained period of calm into Gaza for at least six weeks, which we could then take the time to build something more enduring.

Over the past month, I’ve had calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, to push this forward. The key element of the deals are on the table. There are gaps that remain, but I’ve encouraged Israeli leaders
to keep working to achieve the deal. The United States will do everything possible to make it happen.

The King and I also discussed the situation in Rafah. As I said yesterday, our military operation in Rafah — their — the major military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible plan — a credible plan for ensuring the safety and support of more than one million people sheltering there. Many people there have been displaced — displaced multiple times, fleeing the violence to the north, and now they’re packed into Rafah — exposed and vulnerable. They need to be protected.

And we have also been clear from the start: We oppose any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.

Today, the King and I also discussed in detail how to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza. From the very beginning, my team and I have relentlessly worked to get more aid in. I urged Congress for months to make sure that our nation’s support for Israel and — also includes urgently needed aid for Palestinians. And I’ve spoken repeatedly with partners across the region, including the King, to help facilitate the flow of such aid into Gaza as much as possible and that will actually get to the people that there — that are — need it.

We worked to get the Rafah Crossing open. We worked to get Kerem Shalom open. And we insist that we remain — it remain open — both remain open. We’re working to open other routes as well. And we’re also working relentlessly to make sure aid workers can get the aid where it’s needed once it gets through.

I want to recognize Jordan and the King specifically for all he has done to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, including just a few days ago. He personally got in a plane and helped conduct an air drop of urgently needed medical supplies into Gaza.

I understand that two of his children have also joined those air drops. They helped fly humanitarian supplies in. And for years, the Queen has been passionate — a passionate advocate for the Palestinian people, particularly women and children. Your family’s leadership, Your Majesty, and humanitarian commitment are commendable.

And at the same time, we’re working to create the conditions for a lasting peace, as we talked a lot about upstairs, with the Israeli security guaranteed and Palestinian aspirations for their own state fulfilled. I say this as a long — lifelong supporter of Israel. That’s the only path that guarantees Israel’s security for the long term. To achieve it, the Palestinians must also seize the opportunity.

As I discussed with the King today, the Palestinian Authority must re- — urgently reform so it can effectively deliver for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza. Once Hamas’s control of Gaza is over, they must prepare to build a state that accepts peace, does not harbor terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

And together, we will keep working to complete what has — what we started: to integrate the region, to bring about peace between Israel and all its Arab neighbors, including a Palestinian state. That effort was already underway before the October 7th attacks. It’s even more urgent today.

No one — no one understands better than our allies and partners in the region, including the King, what we need. I’m grateful to him for his friendship, including his and Jordan’s unique role — unique role: custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

We’re grateful for this friendship. We saw that again just two weeks ago when three brave American servicemembers were killed in an attack at a military outpost in Jordan, close to the Syrian border, by radical militant groups backed by Iran, operating in Syria and Iraq. Since then, U.S. military forces have struck targets in Iraq and Syria, and our response will continue.

We’re grateful for our partners and allies like the King who work with us every single day to advance security and stability across the region and beyond. It’s difficult times like these when the bonds between nations are more important than ever.

And Jill and I are pleased to welcome him and the Queen and the Crown Prince to the White House today.

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