Jen Psaki: President Biden Calls for ‘De-escalation’ in Middle East

Jen Psaki (Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty)
Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that President Joe Biden has urged both Israelis and Palestinians to pursue “de-escalation” after several days of Palestinian riots and rockets against Israeli civilians, followed by Israeli airstrikes against Palestinian terror groups.

In her remarks at a White House press briefing, Psaki said:

The president has been briefed daily on developments in Jerusalem and Gaza. He just received another update before I came out here from the national security advisor. Since last week, he has directed his team to engage intensively with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials as well as leaders throughout the Middle East. His team is communicating a clear and consistent message in support of de-escalation, and that is our primary focus.

The president support for Israel’s security, for its legitimate right to defend itself, and its people is fundamental and will never waver. We condemn ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem. We also stand against extremism that has inflicted violence on both communities. Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith around the world, must be a place of coexistence. It is up to the officials, residents, and leaders to restore the city to a place of calm.

The president and his team will continue to pursue the conditions for diplomacy, dialogue, and de-escalation, and protection of civilians even as we work together with our friends to deter acts of violence and terrorism. We will also continue to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is the only way to ensure that just and lasting peace the two peoples have struggled to achieve.

We believe Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom and security, dignity, and prosperity. And U.S. officials in recent weeks have spoken candidly with Israeli officials about how evictions of Palestinian families who have lived for years, sometimes decades, in their homes and of demolitions of these homes work against our common interest in achieving a solution to the conflict.

In the coming days, as Muslims gather with family and friends to celebrate Eid and Jews joined together to mark the–the beginning of Shabbat, let us affirm that all people of faith deserve to enjoy these important celebrations without fear of violence and work toward peace and calm for all.

Biden’s approach contrasts sharply with the approach of his predecessor, President Donald Trump, who stood staunchly with Israel.

For example, in 2017, Trump said:

Israelis have experienced firsthand the hatred and terror of radical violence. Israelis are murdered by terrorists wielding knives and bombs. Hamas and Hezbollah launch rockets into Israeli communities where schoolchildren have to be trained to hear the sirens and run to the bomb shelters — with fear, but with speed. ISIS targets Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues, and storefronts. And Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction. Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me.

After Palestinian rocket attacks in 2019, Vice President Mike Pence said:

Together with Israel, we’ve made great strides against the menace of terrorism. But as we’ve seen in recent weeks, the terrorist threat still festers at Israel’s borders. Hamas has sent a stream of rockets into Israel, including more than 300 rockets and mortars in a single six-hour span earlier this month. These attacks against Israel must end, and they must end now. (Applause.)

But we recognize terrorists across the region, from Hamas to Hezbollah, are really, truth be told, nothing more than proxies of a vile regime. They’re the pawns of Iran and its ayatollahs, who in recent years have devoted more than $16 billion to spreading violence, sowing chaos and bloodshed across the Middle East and the wider world.

Israel’s last war with Hamas in Gaza was in 2014, during President Barack Obama’s administration.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it). His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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