Gaza, West Bank should be ‘reunited’ under new Palestinian Authority

Gaza and the West Bank should eventually be “reunited” under a new Palestinian Authority, US president Joe Biden said in an opinion piece yesterday, as questions swirl over the future of the region once Israel achieves its goal of crushing Hamas.

“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 wrote in the piece published in The Washington Post.

Israel’s top ally Washington has given its full backing to the country’s response to the Oct 7 shock attack by Hamas, which left 1,200 dead, mostly civilians.

About 240 people were taken hostage.

But as the death toll from Israel’s military campaign in Gaza continues to climb – to 12,300 people, including more than 5,000 children, according to the Hamas government – the US has voiced concerns over the manner of the strikes, and raised questions over the long-term future of the territory once Hamas is vanquished.

Two state solution

“A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Though right now it may seem like that future has never been further away, this crisis has made it more imperative than ever,” Biden said.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not reject Biden’s plan, but said the Palestinian Authority “in its current form is not capable of receiving responsibility for Gaza”.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has not condemned the Hamas attack and his senior ministers are celebrating it, Netanyahu said.

“We can’t have a civilian authority in Gaza that supports terror, encourages terror, pays terror, and teaches terror,” he said at a news conference.

Abbas, meanwhile, appealed to Biden to use his “significant influence” on Israel “to intervene immediately to … stop this humanitarian catastrophe, this genocide against our innocent people”.

In his letter, Biden also threatened sanctions against settlers committing violence against Palestinians in the West Bank amid the conflict in Gaza.

“I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable,” he said.

“The US is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.”