US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his hope for a “revitalized” Palestinian National Authority to regain control of Gaza if Israel succeeds in overthrowing the Hamas terrorist group. During a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Blinken also mentioned the possibility of involving regional partners and international organizations in the enclave’s governance. This public declaration marks the first time the Biden administration has openly supported the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, a position that has been privately discussed with regional partners since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Blinken emphasized the need for an efficient and revitalized Palestinian Authority to take charge of security and governance in Gaza. He questioned the feasibility of achieving this change in a single stage and proposed the idea of temporary agreements involving other countries in the region or international organizations to ensure stability and security.
While rejecting a return to the status quo ante with Hamas in control, Blinken also opposed Israeli control over the region. He stressed the importance of a change that guarantees stability, security, and effective governance in Gaza.
In a separate hearing before Congress, both US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Blinken argued for the immediate provision of aid to Israel and Ukraine. Although Democrats and many Republicans in the Senate support aid for both countries, the idea faces opposition in the House of Representatives with Republicans in the majority. Incumbent Mike Johnson proposed cutting aid to Ukraine and focusing solely on supporting Israel.
Blinken and Austin also highlighted the significance of strong support for foreign aid as a message to adversaries about America’s strength. They expressed concern that if the United States does not exercise leadership, the costs and threats to the country will escalate. They emphasized the importance of maintaining American commitment and not giving any reason to doubt it.
During the hearing, Blinken and Austin faced interruptions by protesters calling for an end to Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip. The hearing was temporarily suspended while police removed the protesters from the courtroom.
The Biden administration has requested significant amounts of aid, including $14.3 billion for Israel, $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $9.1 billion for humanitarian efforts in Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, and elsewhere, and $7.4 billion for the Indo-Pacific region to counter Chinese influence. The White House has also requested around $14 billion for border security.
However, a much smaller House proposal of $14.5 billion is meeting resistance from Senate Democrats, which puts pressure on Republicans who support aid to Ukraine but must consider concerns within their party. The differing approaches hint at potential challenges as conflicts in Israel and Ukraine continue to unfold, with significant global implications according to President Joe Biden and many US lawmakers.
(With information from AP)