The US president has speculated that Palestinian militants sought to derail a Saudi-Israeli peace deal
US President Joe Biden has offered a theory on what might have triggered the surprise Hamas attacks that ignited the Palestinian militant group’s latest war with Israel: himself.
Speaking to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts on Friday, Biden speculated that Hamas was motivated to launch its October 7 assault on villages in southern Israel by US progress in negotiating a peace agreement between West Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia. The president claimed that the talks were heating up after a massive railway project, including a link between Riyadh and Israel, was announced at the G20 summit in September – a deal for which he took credit.
“I cannot prove what I’m about to say,” Biden said. “But I believe one of the reasons why Hamas struck when they did was they knew that I was working very closely with the Saudis and others in the region to bring peace to the region by having recognition of Israel and Israel’s right to exist.”
Biden made his comments after a four-day ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict began on Friday morning. He credited “extensive US diplomacy,” including telephone calls that he placed from the Oval Office, with bringing about the temporary halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip. Hamas agreed to release 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian civilians held in Israeli jails.
“Today has been a product of a lot of hard work and weeks of personal engagement,” Biden said. “From the moment Hamas kidnapped these people, I along with my team have worked around the clock to secure their release.”
The October 7 raids killed an estimated 1,200 people in Israel, and the Islamist militants took around 240 hostages back to Gaza. The attacks triggered a war that has left more than 14,000 people dead in the Palestinian enclave, according to local health officials.
Saudi Arabia, which was reportedly nearing an agreement to normalize relations with Israel, put the deal on ice after the latest conflict in Gaza began.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had brokered the Abraham Accords, under which Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic ties with Israel. Sudan and Morocco later signed onto the accords.