Biden's Washington Post opinion piece on Hamas: main takeaways

Biden's Washington Post opinion piece on Hamas: main takeaways
4 min read
19 November, 2023
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Biden compared Hamas to Russia's president, vowed the US 'has Israel's back', and claimed images from a devastated Gaza had left him 'heartbroken'.
US President Biden has been unwavering in his support for Israel [Getty]

US President Joe Biden reiterated his steadfast support for Israel amid its war on Gaza in an opinion piece for The Washington Post published Saturday.

In the article, entitled 'The US won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas', Biden said the US "has Israel's back", but claimed he had been left "heartbroken" by the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza.

Here are some takeaways from Biden's opinion article.

1) Hamas and Putin: drawing equivalencies

Biden claimed Palestinian group Hamas shared similar goals with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighboring democracy off the map. And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder," Biden said.

"America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world."

The US has been unequivocal in its support for Ukraine, and earlier this month pledged billions of dollars in aid to both Ukraine and Israel.

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Biden said he was "heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children".

"Every innocent Palestinian life lost is a tragedy that rips apart families and communities."

But he placed blame for the current plight of Palestinians - more than 12,000 of whom have been killed in Israel's onslaught since October 7 - firmly on Hamas, who he said held an "ideology of destruction".

"The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own and a future free from Hamas," he said.

"If Hamas cared at all for Palestinian lives, it would release all the hostages, give up arms, and surrender the leaders and those responsible for October 7."

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2) Two-state solution or bust

Looking to the longer term, Biden wrote in the op-ed that a two-state solution that Washington has long called for was the only way to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

"This much is clear: A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people," Biden said.

He said that some version of the Palestinian Authority that currently governs the West Bank ought to run both Gaza and the West Bank.

"As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalised Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution," Biden said.

Israel has said it does not want the Palestinian Authority to run Gaza, claiming that would be a threat to Israeli security.

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On the West Bank, where settlers carry out violent and often deadly attacks on Palestinian civilians, Biden said "extremist violence" needed to be brought to an end.

"I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop.

"The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank."

Citing an 'internal document', US news sites reported Saturday that Biden had ordered for officials to prepare visa bans and sanctions for Israeli settlers attacking and displacing Palestinians in the occupied territory.

3) Hamas, hospitals, and human shields

Biden used the op-ed to repeat Israeli claims about Hamas that have been debunked or are yet to be substantiated.

"This stands in stark opposition to Hamas’s terrorist strategy: hide among Palestinian civilians. Use children and innocents as human shields. Position terrorist tunnels beneath hospitals, schools, mosques and residential buildings," Biden said.

The US president has been criticised before for reciting Israeli claims about Hamas.

Early on in the war, Biden reiterated claims made by Israeli officials that Hamas had beheaded babies during its 7 October attack - a claim widely reported in international media but now widely dismissed as misinformation.

He also repeated unproven Israeli claims that a strike on Al-Ahli Hospital that killed almost 500 people had been conducted by Palestinian fighters.

Israel is currently besieging the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and claims Hamas is using the facility as a base. Again, it has not provided substantive proof for that claim.