Secretary of State Antony Blinken was repeatedly interrupted by protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza as he told a US Senate hearing that the Palestinian Authority should retake control of the enclave from Hamas. The president has said that the militant group should be eliminated and that he supports a two-state solution in the region.
Mr Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testified about the White House’s $106bn funding request for national security, including $14.3bn for Israel.
Israel is continuing its assault on Gaza following the bloody 7 October attacks launched by Hamas militants and has reportedly pushed 20,000 troops into the territory to help recover hundreds of hostages.
“At some point, what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to have governance and ultimately security responsibility for Gaza,” Mr Blinken told the hearing on Tuesday.
“Whether you can get there in one step is a big question that we have to look at. And if you can’t, then there are other temporary arrangements that may involve a number of other countries in the region,” he said.
“It may involve international agencies that would help provide for both security and governance.”
At least 8,525 Palestinians, including 3,542 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry has claimed.
More than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the surprise raids on the country by Hamas earlier this month. More than 200 people were taken hostage.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 with Hamas taking control in 2007.
Mr Blinken added that Hamas could not be left power in Gaza, and nor should Israel retake control of the territory.
“We also can’t have – and the Israelis start with this proposition themselves – Israel running or controlling Gaza,” he said.