President Biden said on Wednesday that the endpoint of the Israel-Hamas conflict has to be a Palestinian state that is “real,” existing alongside an Israeli one.
He added that he and his aides have been negotiating with Arab nations on next steps, but did not give any details.
“I can tell you, I don’t think it ultimately ends until there’s a two-state solution,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference on an estate south of San Francisco after his summit with Xi Jinping, China’s leader.
Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken have been publicly emphasizing the need for a two-state solution in recent days. The establishment of a Palestinian state has long been a U.S. policy goal, but no recent administration has succeeded in making any substantial headway on the issue. The last major push along those lines came from John Kerry when he was secretary of state in the Obama administration.
Mr. Biden said he did not have a specific idea of when to tell Israel it should halt its war in Gaza. He said the fighting would end once Hamas could no longer do “horrific things” to Israelis. Hamas still has weapons and technology beneath hospitals in Gaza, he said.
U.S. officials have been saying in recent days that Hamas maintains a compound beneath Al-Shifa Hospital, which the Israeli military raided this week despite the presence of civilian patients and doctors. Israeli officials have said that the hospital sits atop a major hub of Hamas’s tunnel network, and that the terrorist group stockpiles weapons in the area.
Fighters from Hamas and other militant groups killed about 1,200 people on Oct. 7 in southern Israel. The groups also kidnapped about 240 others.
Israel’s strikes on Gaza in response have killed at least 11,000 people, about 40 percent of them children, according to the health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas.
Mr. Biden said Israeli forces were allowing doctors and nurses at Al-Shifa to get out of harm’s way, and that “this is a different story than I believe what was occurring before with indiscriminate bombing.”
Hamas has released four hostages since Oct. 7, and told Israel recently through mediators in Qatar that it is willing to release about 50 more, all women and children, if the right conditions are met, including a release by Israel of a similar number of women and children being held prisoner, said an official briefed on the talks.
Israeli officials have said Hamas has at least 100 women and children and should release them all, the official said. The negotiators are also discussing the possibility of Israel pausing its strikes for three days to allow for the release of hostages in batches.
Mr. Biden said he was “mildly hopeful” that some hostages would be released, but added he did not know what had occurred during talks in the last four hours.
Mr. Biden added that the United States had been working well with Qatar, which hosts an office for Hamas’s political leaders, to try and secure the release of the hostages.