Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.), suggested Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of a two-state solution with Palestinians wouldn’t last after its war with Hamas ends.
“Israel right now is focused on the war in Hamas, but when that war ends, when Hamas is no longer a threat to Israel or the Palestinians, then Israel is going to be focused on normalization in the region,” Cardin told MNSBC host Andrea Mitchell.
But first, he said, Hamas must be eliminated as a threat. Second, Cardin said there must be “a clear path” for a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace “recognizing each other’s rights without fear of any security concerns.”
“Once the Hamas threat is eliminated, the attitude, and I think the language, is going to change pretty dramatically,” the senator said. “There is no other option for peace in the region than two states living side-by-side in peace.”
The senator’s comments come after Netanyahu brushed off calls from the United States and allies to scale back its military offensive in Gaza and take steps to establish a Palestinian state.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this week that opening a pathway for Palestine to become an autonomous state would be “necessary” for Israel to obtain “genuine security.”
“The problem is getting from here to there, and of course, it requires very difficult, challenging decisions,” Blinken said Wednesday during a speech at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. “It requires a mindset that is open to that perspective.”
The Maryland Democrat was briefed by Blinken, who recently returned from a seven-day trip to nine countries in the Middle East, on negotiations around scaling back the war and preparing for post-war reconstruction in Gaza — and peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
Cardin said Blinken heard similar sentiments from the countries in the region that he visited, arguing they too “want to see normalization.”
“They do want to see the end of the terrorist threats in the region and they do want to see a Palestinian state,” the senator said.
He suggested internal politics within the Israeli government is “going to be what it is,” but the best way toward peace in the region is to provide Palestinians sovereignty that Israel recognizes.