The White House is cautioning Israel against reoccupying Gaza after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Israel could be there “for an indefinite period” after the war.
“We’re having active discussions with our Israeli counterparts about what post-conflict Gaza looks like,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. “The president maintains his position that reoccupation by Israeli forces is not the right thing to do.”
In mid-October, President Biden told CBS News’s Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” that reoccupation of Gaza by Israel would be a “big mistake.” Israel formally withdrew its military presence and settlements from inside Gaza in 2005. Still, Biden said taking out “the extremists” is necessary.
The year after Israel withdrew from the territory, Hamas was elected to govern the area. In a recent interview, Netanyahu said he thinks Israel will have an “overall security responsibility” for the area because “we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it.”
In an interview with ABC News’s David Muir, Netanyahu said there will be no cease-fire without the release of hostages. His comments come after U.S. officials have been pressing Israel to agree to a humanitarian pause in Gaza, but Israel has yet to agree.
Biden recently had a phone call with Netanyahu to discuss the use of a tactical pause.
Netanyahu signaled it could be a possibility, but as the humanitarian crisis worsens, U.S. officials are trying to determine how to handle its support for Israel with its continued calls for a pause.
According to Kirby, the White House is keeping the “many, many thousands of innocent Palestinians” who have been killed and injured in the fighting in their thoughts and prayers.
“We’re mindful of that suffering as well,” Kirby said.
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