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Obama calls for end of Israeli 'occupation' and for a two-state solution

A two-state solution appears unlikely as 72% of Palestinians say they do not support a two-state solution.

Published: November 5, 2023 2:21pm

President Barack Obama called for Israel to end its "occupation" of Palestine and for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians as the conflict in the Gaza Strip escalates. 

Obama acknowledged Friday at the Obama Foundation's 2023 Democracy Forum that the latest conflict, which started Oct. 7, was "triggered by the brutal murder of more than 1,400 mostly civilian Israelis, many of them children, at the hands of Hamas, as well as the abduction of over 200 hostages." 

He said that was followed by "an Israeli response that has so far resulted in the displacement of well over a million people, the deaths of at least 9,000 Palestinian civilians, thousands of them also children, [and Israel has] cut off of water, food, electricity to a captive population that risks creating an ever even greater humanitarian crisis."

Israel has previously pushed back on those claims, saying that "90% of drinking water is self-sourced [from Gaza] and 10% comes from three waterlines from Israel," one of which was damaged by Hamas on Oct. 7 and two of which have been opened by Israel, which supply 28.5 million liters of water a day. Also, they state that Hamas, during its initial attack on Oct. 7, destroyed nine of the 10 power lines that go from Israel into the area under their control.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said that as of Sunday, more than 9,770 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to The Associated Press. However, Hamas, the U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that has controlled the Gaza Strip, combines the deaths of its militants with those of civilians.

Furthermore, Western officials, including Obama's former running mate, President Joe Biden, have expressed doubts about the death toll promulgated by Hamas. Furthermore, Hamas is infamous for placing its bases and rocket launch sites in and around hospitals, schools and other civilian areas, and it is reportedly not letting civilians leave sensitive areas as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) executes a ground invasion.

Obama also said a plan is needed to solve the current crisis. "One that is based on genuine security for Israel, a recognition of its right to exist and a peace that is based on the end of the occupation and the creation of a viable state and self-determination for the Palestinian people," he said to applause. 

He acknowledged that "it is hard to feel hopeful," but said ultimately, people who disagree in the United States want the same outcome: "An end to the killing, a peaceful coexistence between two sovereign and free peoples."

Gaza has been independent from Israel since Israel withdrew from there in 2005, and then Hamas took over the area from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Additionally, a two-state solution appears unlikely as Palestinian leadership has rejected Israel's offers for an independent state on multiple occasions and 72% of Palestinians say they do not support a two-state solution, according to a Gallup poll last month.

His comments come as progressive groups across the United States are demanding a ceasefire in the region. The proposal also seems unlikely as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that his country will not consider a ceasefire until Hamas frees all hostages.

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