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US weighing options to recognise a Palestinian state: Report

Media leak could be a way to put pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government as it weighs US-backed ceasefire proposal
Corpses of people killed in Israeli bombing are lined up outside morgue of al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in southern Gaza, on 31 January 2024 (AFP)

The US is reviewing options to recognise a Palestinian state when the war in Gaza is over, according to a report by Axios.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has asked the State Department to review how the US and international community could recognise an independent Palestinian state. 

Part of the deliberations include an examination of how to create a demilitarised Palestinian state based on other examples in the world.

President Biden signalled earlier this month to reporters that his administration was looking into the creation of an independent Palestinian state that would have no military, as a way to gain Israeli support. 

In his remarks to reporters, Biden alluded to other demilitarised states, such as a handful of small European principalities and island nations. 

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The State Department's review comes as the Biden administration ramps up efforts to seal a lengthy ceasefire to the war in Gaza.

The White House dispatched CIA director Bill Burns to Paris, France, over the weekend to hammer out the details of a potential six-week pause in Gaza fighting, that Arab and US officials hope could lead to a permanent ceasefire.

Hamas has said it is reviewing the agreement, but the deal faces a number of obstacles, not the least of which is Israel’s public refusal to agree to a full ceasefire and the removal of Israeli soldiers from Gaza when fighting stops. 

The Biden administration has consistently said that it believes a two-state solution is the only way to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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That has put it at odds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which has publicly said it would oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Some members of Netanyahu’s government are also calling for Israel to re-settle the Gaza Strip and expel its Palestinian population.

The media leak saying that the State Department is reviewing options to recognise a Palestinian state could be a way to put pressure on Netanyahu’s government as it weighs the US-backed ceasefire proposal.

US entangled in proxy war 

Israel’s offensive in Gaza has dragged on with no end in sight, and about 80 percent of Hamas’s tunnel network remains intact, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Israeli officials’ statements that the war in Gaza could drag on through 2024 stand in sharp contrast to the Biden administration’s lobbying for a precise and short military campaign in the besieged enclave in response to the Hamas-led 7 October attack. 

The war in Gaza has been gradually seeping out beyond the besieged Mediterranean enclave’s borders, where it has morphed into a deadly proxy war between the US and Iran.

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Over the weekend, the shadowy conflict escalated to a new high, with three US soldiers killed in a drone strike on a base in Jordan by an Iranian-backed militia.

For decades, the US has refused to unilaterally recognise an independent Palestinian state, insisting that such a move will only come after Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached a final agreement on a two-state solution.

The US has also regularly blocked efforts at the United Nations to recognise Palestine as an independent state. According to the Axios report, one of the options on the table for the US, short of recognising an independent Palestinian state, would be to lift its veto on the move at the UN Security Council.

Other US allies have also said they are considering recognising an independent Palestinian state. On Monday, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the UK should “set out what a Palestinian state would look like”.

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