Biden Presses Netanyahu on Working Toward a Palestinian State


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President Biden pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Friday to agree to the creation of a Palestinian state after the war in Gaza is over and raised options that would limit Palestinian sovereignty to make the prospect more palatable to Israel.

Hoping to overcome Mr. Netanyahu’s strenuous resistance, Mr. Biden floated the possibility of a disarmed Palestinian nation that would not threaten Israel’s security. While there was no indication that Mr. Netanyahu would ease his opposition, which is popular with his fragile right-wing political coalition, Mr. Biden expressed optimism that they may yet find consensus.

“There are a number of types of two-state solutions,” the president told reporters at the White House several hours after the call, their first in nearly a month amid tension over the war. “There’s a number of countries that are members of the U.N. that are still — don’t have their own militaries. Number of states that have limitations.” He added, “And so I think there’s ways in which this could work.”

Asked what Mr. Netanyahu was open to, Mr. Biden said, “I’ll let you know.” But he rejected the notion that a so-called two-state solution is impossible as long as Mr. Netanyahu is in power — “no, it’s not” — and he brushed off the idea of imposing conditions on American security aid to Israel if the prime minister continues to resist.

“I think we’ll be able to work something out,” Mr. Biden said.

The last time the two leaders were known to have talked was on Dec. 23, in a call that was later described as especially tense. The latest call came a day after Mr. Netanyahu told reporters in Israel that he had rebuffed Mr. Biden’s efforts to pressure him into a two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu said Israel must maintain security control “over all the territory west of the Jordan,” referring to both Gaza and the West Bank, despite American views. “The prime minister needs to be able to say no, even to our best friends,” Mr. Netanyahu told reporters.

Mr. Biden has argued that the creation of a Palestinian state that guarantees Israel’s security is the only viable long-term resolution to a conflict that has dragged on for decades, repeating a position held by most American presidents and European leaders in recent history. In the meantime, Mr. Biden has suggested that a “revitalized” version of the Palestinian Authority, which partially governs the West Bank, take over Gaza as well once Hamas has been removed from power there — another idea Mr. Netanyahu has rejected because he considers the authority corrupt and compromised by support for terrorists.

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Biden Presses Netanyahu on Working Toward a Palestinian State

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