President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Washington. AP
Biden said from the White House that he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States “stands with the people of Israel" adding that "Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop."
The president also warned Israeli’s enemies that “this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage. The world is watching.”
Biden said he would keep in close touch with Netanyahu, and had called Jordan’s King Abdullah II and members of Congress to discuss the situation.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was at the White House for meetings and spoke to Israel’s president and foreign minister, while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Israel’s defense minister. The Pentagon chief said the U.S. was committed to helping Israel with its defense needs.
Hamas’ unprecedented incursion, which Biden noted came not long after Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, was the deadliest attack in Israel in years and was threatening to spiral into a broader conflict. Israel retaliated with airstrikes in Gaza. “We are at war,” Netanyahu said.
Biden referring to Israel stressed "We will not ever fail to have their back. We’ll make sure that they have the help their citizens need and they can continue to defend themselves."
The hostilities dealt a significant blow to U.S. efforts to expand the Arab-Israeli Abraham Accords normalization agreements, not only with Saudi Arabia, which has commanded most of the public attention, but also with smaller Arab states.
U.S. officials say they intend to press ahead but acknowledge efforts are unlikely to bear fruit while there is an active conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Blinken had been planning a trip to the Middle East, with stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia, later this month, but those plans are now on hold, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations.
In the immediate term, these officials said the U.S. would work with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among Arab partners in the region, to try to deescalate the situation. But given the scale of the Hamas attacks and Israel’s military response, the officials said they were not optimistic about any short-term solution.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online