Biden pledges reconstruction, humanitarian aid for war-hit Gaza

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Gaza City

President Joe Biden has pledged humanitarian and reconstruction aid for Gaza as he hailed a deal to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas that tested his negotiating skills and exposed him to criticism from fellow Democrats.

Biden, appearing briefly at the White House after news of the ceasefire agreement, also promised to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, despite complaints from the Democratic left about a pending US arms sale to Israel.

Biden said the US would work through the UN and other international stakeholders “to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for the people in Gaza and in the Gaza reconstruction efforts.”

He insisted that reconstruction aid would be provided in partnership with the Palestinian Authority and not with Hamas, which the US labels a terrorist organization.

The Palestinian Authority, which is run by moderate President Mahmoud Abbas, only governs parts of the occupied West Bank, however, while Hamas holds sway in the Gaza Strip.

“We will do this in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority and not Hamas in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal,” Biden said.

Biden on Friday said the Democratic Party still supported Israel and he was praying that the cease-fire between Israelis and Hamas would hold.

Speaking at a White House news conference, Biden said a two-state solution was the only answer to resolving the conflict between the two sides.

Biden, whose administration worked behind the scenes for days to reach a truce, said aid to the region would be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority — Hamas’s Western-backed rival in the occupied West Bank — to ensure Hamas was not able to restock its military arsenal.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Secretary of State Antony Blinken would travel to the region in coming days to meet Israeli, Palestinian and regional counterparts to discuss recovery efforts and “working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Biden defended his approach to handling the crisis but gave a nod to his critics, saying Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security just like Israelis.—AFP