US not to allow forced relocation of Palestinians, Harris tells Sisi

Published December 3, 2023
US Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks an aircraft as she arrives to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 2, 2023. — Reuters
US Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks an aircraft as she arrives to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 2, 2023. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: US Vice President Kamala Harris has delivered a resolute message to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, affirming the US stance that it will not allow any forced relocation of Palestinians, the White House said.

In a statement released in Washington on Saturday, the White House said that Ms Harris conveyed this message to Mr Sisi during a recent meeting at the COP28 event in Dubai, emphasising that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza”.

The US vice president emphasised the Palestinians’ right to dignity and self-determination and that Israelis and Palestinians must enjoy an equal measure of freedom, security, and prosperity.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday that the US opposes any reduction in Palestinian territories.

The clarification follows a media report that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel will create a security buffer zone `deep’ into Gaza.

“We don’t support any reduction of the geographic limits of Gaza… Gaza must remain Palestinian land and cannot be reduced,” Mr Kirby said during a press briefing.

During the meeting, the US vice president also explained Washington’s policy for resolving the Palestinian dispute, which includes the UN-backed two-state solution.

“Efforts for reconstruction, security, and governance in Gaza can only thrive within the framework of a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people, leading towards a state of their own under a revitalised Palestinian Authority,” she asserted.

The two leaders engaged in a substantive discourse, underscoring the pivotal importance of a political framework to realise the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

In another meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, the vice president discussed US ideas for post-conflict planning in Gaza with the King and said such “efforts can only succeed if they are pursued in the context of a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people, toward a state of their own led by a revitalised Palestinian Authority and backed by significant support from the international community and the countries of the region”.

She reiterated the Biden-Harris administration’s “commitment to a two-state solution”, and called it “the best path to durable peace and security”.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023

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