Biden threatens visa bans for ‘extremists’ who attack Palestinians in the West Bank, calls again for two-state solution

President Joe Biden called for a stop to violence against Palestinians in the West Bank in an op-ed published Saturday, signaling that the US is prepared to issue visa bans, and again committed to pursuing a state for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

“This much is clear: A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Biden wrote in The Washington Post.

The president’s warning comes amid concerns over Israel violating the Visa Waiver Program, which allows eligible travelers to apply to enter the US without a visa. Israel joined the program in late October.

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

The State Department acknowledged the concerns earlier this week, with spokesperson Matt Miller sharing that “there are remedial measures that are available to us” if Israel does not comply with the program.

Biden also in the op-ed rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, maintaining a position he has held since the Israel-Hamas conflict began early last month. Instead, the president stressed the need for a two-state solution and governance under the Palestinian Authority in the meantime.

“A two-state solution — two peoples living side by side with equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity — is where the road to peace must lead. Reaching it will take commitments from Israelis and Palestinians, as well as from the United States and our allies and partners,” he wrote.

Biden has previously endorsed a two-state solution to the decadeslong tensions between Israel and Palestinians.

“We must keep pursuing a path so that Israel and the Palestinian people can both live safely and securely in dignity and in peace,” he said last month during an address in Tel Aviv. “For me, that means a two-state solution. We must keep working for Israel’s greater integration with its neighbors.”

The Washington Post op-ed is the latest effort from the White House to remind Americans that conflicts abroad affect US national security as the administration’s supplemental request remains stalled.

Last month, the Biden administration requested more than $105 billion from Congress as part of a package it said will provide security assistance for the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. At the time, Biden made an impassioned plea for the funding in a prime-time Oval Office address, calling the moment “an inflection point” in American history.

The president underscored that message in his op-ed Saturday and attempted to highlight the similarities between the two wars.

“Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighboring democracy off the map,” Biden wrote. “And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder.”

“America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world,” he added.

Biden closed with condemning the rising antisemitism and Islamophobia since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began.

“We can’t stand by when hate rears its head,” he said. “We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate and bias. We must renounce violence and vitriol and see each other not as enemies but as fellow Americans.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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