WASHINGTON - U.S. President Joe Biden forcefully reiterated his commitment to Israel's security on Friday, a day after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect.
“There’s no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period. Not at all,” Biden said, adding that members of the Democratic Party remain supportive of Israel.
"My party still supports Israel. Until the region says unequivocally that they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace," he continued, calling the two-state solution "the only answer."
Biden added that he wants to put together a “major package” to aid with Gaza reconstruction efforts.
Biden also noted that he made clear to Israel that violent clashes in Jerusalem must stop. "I indicated to the Israelis that they stop in Jerusalem, this intercommunal fighting, these extremes on both sides," he said. "It has to end."
- Democrats welcome Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire but warn it's not enough
- U.S. Jewish groups urge Biden to confront antisemitism emerging from Israeli-Palestinian flare-up
- Behind the Gaza cease-fire: Netanyahu surrendered to Biden, and dumped the blame on the army
Biden, whose administration worked behind the scenes for days to reach a truce, said aid to the region would be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority to ensure Hamas was not able to restock its military arsenal.
Biden declined to discuss his recent discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but said he believed the Israeli leader would maintain the ceasefire. "I'm praying this cease-fire will hold. I take Bibi Netanyahu – when he gives me his word – I take him at his word. He's never broken his word to me," Biden said.
Biden's remarks on the Democratic Party came amid unprecedentedly vocal criticism from the party's progressive wing over the past several weeks, which has included calls for probes into whether Israel violated U.S. law, accusations of apartheid and violations of basic human rights, and attempts at blocking a sale of precision-guided missiles to Israel.
Reuters contributed to this report.