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LONDON — President Biden reaffirmed the U.S.’s support for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his visit to the Middle East this week.
Speaking at a conference in Bethlehem alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, Biden said the U.S. had been one of the early supporters of establishing two states to ensure that Israel and an independent Palestine follow the borders created after the Six-Day War in 1967.
“Two states along 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps remains the best way to achieve equal measures of security, prosperity, freedom and democracy for the Palestinians as well as Israelis,” Biden said.
The 1967 borders differ from those of today and refer to those that existed before the Six-Day War when Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Biden’s announcement echoes the words of President Barack Obama, who in 2011 said the 1967 borders must be the “basis for negotiations” to set up a future Palestinian state.
While Biden voiced U.S. support for a two-state solution, no diplomatic meetings have been publicly announced to discuss the possible resolution. On Wednesday, he acknowledged that the solution is “not in the near term” but said he will still air his “continued support.”
Biden also spoke about the death in May of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and said the U.S. would continue to “insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world.” Investigations by several media organizations including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bellingcat and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights concluded that Israeli soldiers were responsible for the journalist's death.
Earlier on Friday, Biden said his administration would give $100 million in assistance to six hospitals in East Jerusalem that, he said, serve as the “backbone of the Palestinian health care system.”
It is a step forward for Palestinian-U.S. relations after the Trump administration cut aid to hospitals in 2018, Reuters reported.
Biden’s trip to the West Bank was part of a four-day tour to the Middle East, which on Friday includes a trip to Saudi Arabia. On Thursday, the president skirted questions about whether he would raise the subject of the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with the country's king and crown prince.
At a press conference with Israeli interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Biden was asked whether he would mention the 2018 murder during his visit to Saudi Arabia. The president responded by stating that his position on Khashoggi “has been so clear.” He added: “If anyone doesn’t understand it, in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, then they haven’t been around for a while.”
Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post, was a harsh critic of the Saudi regime. He was brutally murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.