White House Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer on Sunday gave no indication of the end of Israel’s war with militant group Hamas, instead emphasizing things cannot go back to the previous conditions in Gaza or the West Bank.
Pressed by CBS News’s “Face the Nation” anchor Margaret Brennan on how close the U.S. believes they are to the end of the war, Finer said, “So I don’t want to speculate about how close we are or are not to the end of the war.”
“But what I will say, and President Biden has been very clear, about this is that whenever this conflict is over, we cannot go back to the way things were before Oct. 7, either in Gaza, or in the West Bank,” Finer continued. “We’re obviously been concerned during this conflict, but also well before it about the rise in violent incidents in the West Bank. President Biden has spoken to the role of extremist settlers in that context.”
Finer was noting remarks President Biden has made in regards to Israeli settlers in the West Bank inciting violence against Palestinians since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in Israel. Finer said the Biden administration expressed such concerns directly to the Israeli government.
“And we give a lot of credit, frankly, to the Palestinian Authority for the work that it has done to prevent the West Bank from spiraling into greater instability, even in the context of what’s happening in Gaza,” Finer continued. “And in the aftermath of this, the president has said we need to get back to the urgent work of working towards a two-state solution that includes both Gaza and the West Bank. And I think there’s broad agreement about that between the United States — among the United States and our Arab partners.”
Finer’s comments come amid Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s previously unannounced visit to the occupied West Bank on Sunday where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort that included the discussion of a post-conflict scenario for the territory.
The war between Israel and Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, is approaching one month since Hamas carried out a bloody incursion into Israel that left over 1,400 Israelis dead, most of them civilians.
Since then, Israel has bombarded Gaza with retaliatory airstrikes, bombings, multiple ground attacks along with a siege on basic necessities. Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have died as a result, prompting calls from several world and humanitarian leaders for at least a temporary cease-fire to assist civilians out of the embattled territory.
Brennan addressed points by some ultra-nationalists within the Israeli government that have said they would cut funding to the Palestinian Authority because they didn’t think Israel’s reaction was “strong enough” to Hamas’s initial attacks on Oct. 7.
Asked if the Biden administration has convinced the Israeli government to stop that, Finer said, “I think you’ve heard the president speak to his concerns about some of the members of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, some of the positions they have taken not just during their time in government but in the run up to it.”
“We believe now is not the time to reduce support to the Palestinian Authority, given that they are working, in many cases alongside Israeli security forces to try to keep a lid on things in the West Bank, and we believe that they should both continue to do so and be supported in that endeavor,” Finer said.