Joe Biden

Remarks on the Situation in Gaza and Israel

May 20, 2021

Folks, I've just spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Earlier today I spoke with President Elsisi of Egypt. And Minister—Prime Minister Netanyahu informed me that Israel has agreed to a mutual, unconditional cease-fire to begin in less than 2 hours. The Egyptians have now informed us that Hamas and the other groups in Gaza have also agreed.

In my conversation with President [Prime Minister]* Netanyahu, I commended him for the decision to bring the current hostilities to a close within less than 11 days. I also emphasized what I have said throughout this conflict: The United States fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups that have taken the lives of innocent civilians in Israel.

The Prime Minister also shared with me his appreciation for the Iron Dome system, which our nations developed together and which has saved lives of countless Israeli citizens, both Arab and Jew. I assured him of my full support to replenish Israel's Iron Dome system to ensure its defenses and security in the future.

Over the last 11 days, I spoke with the Prime Minister six times. I've also spoken with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority more than once in part of our intense diplomatic engagement. And I want to also thank the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, our National Security Adviser, and everyone on our team for their incredible efforts to bring this about, this outcome that we're about to see.

You know, we've held intensive high-level discussions, hour by hour, literally—Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and other Middle Eastern countries—with an aim of avoiding the sort of prolonged conflict we've seen in previous years when the hostilities have broken out.

I extend my sincere gratitude to President Elsisi and the senior Egyptian officials who played such a critical role in this diplomacy. I also appreciate the contributions of other parties in the region who have been engaged in working towards the end of hostilities.

These hostilities have resulted in the tragic deaths of so many civilians, including children. And I send my sincere condolences to all the families—Israeli and Palestinian—who have lost loved ones and my hope for a full recovery for the wounded.

The United States committed to working with the United Nations, and we remain committed to working with the United Nations and other international stakeholders to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for the people of Gaza and the Gazan reconstruction efforts. We will do this in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority—not Hamas, the Authority—in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal.

I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet and relentless diplomacy toward that end. I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress, and I'm committed to working for it.

I want to thank you all. And may God bless you all. And I pray that this continues. Thank you so much.

[At this point, several reporters began asking questions.]

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:05 p.m. in Cross Hall at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to National Security Adviser Jacob J. Sullivan.

* White House correction.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on the Situation in Gaza and Israel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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