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White House avoids question on Palestinians' right to self-defense

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 17: (L-R) White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on February 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger told reporters that 9 federal agencies and around 100 companies were impacted by the SolarWinds cyber hacking event. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on February 17, 2021 in Washington, DC [Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki avoided a reporter's question whether US President Joe Biden believes Palestinians have a right to self-defense amid Israeli airstrikes, Anadolu Agency reported.

"We've heard repeatedly with respect to the statements about violence in Israel that Israel has a legitimate right to self-defense but we're not hearing about the Palestinians right to self-defense. Why is that and does the president believe that Palestinians have a right to self-defense," asked a reporter.

In response, Psaki did not say "yes" or "no" to the question but said the US is working to de-escalate and try to reduce in the region.

"Let me first say, I think it's important to note, as I think you'd agree, that these [rocket] attacks are coming from Hamas and many Palestinian people are being put in danger because of the violence that is happening back and forth.

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"And the president in his statement yesterday also made clear that you know. He underscored the importance of working to advance peace throughout the region, including between Israelis and Palestinians. Any loss of life, any threat to life, which we've certainly seen, is a tragedy," she said.

Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem since last week when an Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families, which was later delayed.

Biden said on Wednesday that Israel "has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory" as violence escalates between Israel and Palestine.

When the reporter asked whether the Biden administration also condemns forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes, Psaki said US officials have raised the issue at many levels but avoided answering the question directly.

"We have spoken to that in our readouts and certainly our national security adviser has raised and we have raised on many levels, the importance of addressing the building in these communities and the fact that, you know, in order to move forward and move toward de-escalation. That's an important issue to address. That has come up I think we've got to move on," she concluded.

Palestinians protesting in solidarity with residents of Sheikh Jarrah have been targeted by Israeli forces.

The escalation resulted in airstrikes by Israel on Gaza, which has left scores dead and hundreds wounded. ​​​​​​

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 – a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

READ: Israeli extremists launch attacks on Arabs in Israeli cities

Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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