“My party still supports Israel,” US President Biden said when asked about a newly-opened rift among Democrats over his quiet diplomacy with Israel.

A Palestinian child stands amidst the rubble of buildings, destroyed by Israeli strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza on May 21, 2021.
A Palestinian child stands amidst the rubble of buildings, destroyed by Israeli strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza on May 21, 2021. (AFP)

A two-state solution is the only answer to a conflict between Israel and Palestine, US President Joe Biden said, rejecting any shift in his commitment to Israel's security despite an international and local outcry over alleged war crimes being committed by Israel on Palestinians.

In response to a question that asked if he recognises a shift in the Democratic Party toward Israel, Biden said there was no change.

"There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period. No shift, not at all. But I'll tell you what there is a shift in. The shift is that we still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer. The only answer," Biden said at a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Biden also played down the idea that the newly-ended fighting had opened a rift among Democrats, as scores of Democrats split with Biden’s “quiet diplomacy” with ally Israel to publicly demand a ceasefire.

“My party still supports Israel,” Biden said. “Let’s get something straight here,” he added. “Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.”

Israel launched an 11-day brutally aggressive air, land and sea assault on Gaza killing at least 250 and injuring almost 2,000 Palestinians.

The UN, International Criminal Court, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch along with a number of other organisations have all accused Israel of war crimes and breaking international law by willfully killing unarmed civilians including women and children, intentionally targeting medical health centres and hospitals and illegally occupying land that does not belong to them, while depriving Palestinians of the most basic human rights.

The International Criminal Court have also launched an investigation into Israel committing war crimes. Israel is refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

Supporters of Palestinians demonstrate outside the Israeli consulate in New York, May 21, 2021.
Supporters of Palestinians demonstrate outside the Israeli consulate in New York, May 21, 2021. (AP)

His remarks came after a group of progressive lawmakers and others in the Democratic Party called for a halt to $735 million in military sales to Israel because of its bombardment of Gaza.

Biden said he spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and told him his plans for Palestine that includes providing security in the West Bank.

"And recently we renewed the security commitment, as well as an economic commitment to the people on the West Bank," said Biden.

"I also indicated to the Israelis that I thought it was very important that they stop in Jerusalem this inner communal fighting, it has to end.”

The president also said he would put together a major package with other nations to rebuild Gaza, partly destroyed by Israeli bombardment that stopped with a ceasefire.

"I'm committed to get that done," he added.

66 Palestinian children killed

The ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, went into effect at 2 am local time on Friday (2300 GMT Thursday). It came after 11 days of Israeli air strikes on the blockaded Gaza.

Earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration had "strong assurances" the ceasefire brokered to halt Israel's offensive on the Gaza, and rocket fire from the enclave, would hold.

Psaki did not specify who the guarantees came from other than to note they were given by "relevant parties," but said Biden had been engaged diplomatically with the Israeli and Egyptian governments to secure the truce before it went into effect early Friday.

Tensions that started in occupied East Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan spread to Gaza as a result of Israeli assaults on worshippers in the flashpoint Al Aqsa Mosque compound and the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The Israeli military staged air strikes across Gaza since May 10, leaving behind a massive trail of destruction across the seaside territory.

A total of 248 Palestinians, including 39 women and 66 children, have been killed by Israeli attacks on Gaza since May 10.

In Israel, 12 people were killed by rocket fire from Gaza.

Media attacked

“The offices of 33 media organisations were destroyed during the Israeli offensive on Gaza,” Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) chairman Nasser Abu Bakr told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

He said 70 journalists were also wounded during Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territory.

“Around 100 other journalists sustained injuries during Israeli assaults in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” Abu Bakr said, adding that the injuries ranged between shrapnel wounds, beating and gas inhalation.

On Friday, the PJS said Palestinian journalist Yousef Abu Hussein was killed in an Israeli airstrike on his home in the Gaza Strip.

“The PJS, in cooperation with international journalists, is compiling a file about Israeli crimes against journalists to be presented to the International Criminal Court,” Abu Bakr said.

'This is our fate in this land, to remain patient.'

Gazans on Friday had a day of recovery after 11 days of bombardment.

Shoppers stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables at a Gaza City open-air market that reopened after being closed during the fighting. Workers swept up rubble.

“Life will return, because this is not the first war, and it will not be the last war,” said shop owner Ashraf Abu Mohammad. “The heart is in pain, there have been disasters, families wiped from the civil registry, and this saddens us. But this is our fate in this land, to remain patient.”

Residents in the hard-hit town of Beit Hanoun surveyed wrecked homes.

“We see such huge destruction here, it’s the first time in history we’ve seen this,” said Azhar Nsair. “The ceasefire is for people who didn’t suffer, who didn’t lose their loved ones, whose homes were not bombed.”

Reactions over Hamas-Israel truce

EU

The EU welcomed the ceasefire and insisted that working toward a "two-state solution" was the only viable option.

"We are appalled and regret the loss of life over these past 11 days," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"As the EU has consistently reiterated, the situation in the Gaza Strip has long been unsustainable."

Turkey

Turkey's foreign ministry welcomed the ceasefire, saying it hopes it will be "sustainable", while placing blame on Israel for the unrest.

"The only way to a permanent, fair and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue is for Israel to put an end to its occupation."

Russia 

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said while Moscow was satisfied with the truce, more needed to be done.

"This is an important but still insufficient step," she said.

"In order to avoid a resumption of violence, we must double international and regional efforts on relaunching direct political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians."

China 

Beijing welcomed the truce and said the international community now needed to "extend helping hands" to the region.

It said it would commit $1 million in emergency aid and a further $1 million to UN relief efforts for the Palestinians.

"The international community should promote the resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestine issue on the basis of the two-state solution," foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Germany 

"Good that there is now a ceasefire," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted, a day after he visited Israel and Ramallah for talks.

"Now we have to deal with the causes, rebuild trust and find a solution to the Middle East conflict."

UK

Britain called on all sides to the conflict to ensure the ceasefire is lasting.

"All sides must work to make the ceasefire durable and end the unacceptable cycle of violence and loss of civilian life," UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter, adding that Britain supports "efforts to bring about peace".

France 

France welcomed the ceasefire but said the violence underscored the need for a relaunch of the peace process.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that barring negotiations, "cycles of violence will be repeated".

Kuwait 

Kuwait's foreign ministry said "the agreement is a step to help save lives and end the violence for which the Israeli occupation authorities bear responsibility".

"Achieving stability in the region requires concerted international efforts to resume the peace process in the Middle East and to establish an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital," it said in a statement.

Jordan 

Jordanian foreign ministry spokesman Dhaifallah Ali al Fayez said the ceasefire was a "positive and necessary first step".

"Israel must comply with it and stop the provocations and escalation in the occupied territories," he said in a statement, calling for the start of "serious negotiations aimed at achieving a comprehensive, lasting and just peace on the basis of a two-state solution".

Bahrain 

Bahrain's foreign ministry said in a statement it welcomed the pact and "stressed the importance of continued international efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue on the basis of a two-state solution". 

Iran 

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel had been "forced to accept defeat" by Palestinian armed groups.

"I thank dear and almighty God for the victory and honour bestowed upon Palestinian fighters," he said in a statement on his official website.

Pope Francis 

Pope Francis hailed the ceasefire and urged the entire Catholic Church to pray for peace.

"I thank God for the decision to halt the armed conflicts and acts of violence, and I pray for the pursuit of paths of dialogue and peace," he said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies