U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday laid out broad American objectives for when the Israel-Hamas conflict ends and stressed that the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank should ultimately be reunified under one governing entity.
Harris made a series of appearances at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, after being asked by U.S. President Joe Biden to take his seat at the table as he focuses on the Israel-Hamas war.
In talks with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, Harris said 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 White House said in a statement.
She also said that once the war ends, efforts to rebuild should be pursued "in the context of a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people towards a state of their own led by a revitalized Palestinian Authority and have significant support from the international community and the countries of the region," the statement said.
"The vice president made clear that Hamas cannot control Gaza, which is untenable for Israel’s security, the well-being of the Palestinian people, and regional security," the White House said.
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority governs parts of the occupied West Bank. Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' mainstream Fatah party and has ruled the enclave ever since.
Harris's role in the administration is coming under increased scrutiny as Biden, 81, runs for a second term. She has been tasked with helping to resolve a series of major challenges, from migration to abortion and voting rights at home. How post-conflict Gaza should realistically be managed is an issue that has confounded regional leaders and Middle East experts.
Palestinian Authority future
U.S. officials have discussed bolstering the Palestinian Authority so it can widen its reach to include Gaza, but no firm plan has been agreed upon.
Some U.S. officials have privately expressed doubts about the Palestinian Authority's ability to govern Gaza post-war.
Critics have accused the P.A. of corruption and mismanagement, and polls have shown its credibility low with the Palestinian people.
Harris also met Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, and had a call with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who has been instrumental in negotiating the release of hostages from Gaza.
In remarks later Saturday, Harris will express the U.S. desire to see a pause in the Israel-Hamas fighting restored to extract more hostages from Gaza and to get a steady flow of humanitarian assistance back in.