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Biden, Trump go to bat for Israel in 1st US presidential debate

June 28, 2024 at 4:46 pm

President of the United States Joe Biden and Former President Donald Trump participate in the first Presidential Debate at CNN Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on June 27, 2024. [Kyle Mazza – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s war on Gaza was a central feature of the first US presidential debate, with both current President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, trying to outdo the other in positioning themselves as a champion of Israeli interests, Anadolu Agency reports.

The incumbent and his challenger, on Thursday night, traded barbs and bragged of all the ways they have helped Israel, along with pledges of continued support and remarks that drew outrage for their racist connotations.

Biden inaccurately claimed that all parties, except Hamas, had agreed to the ceasefire proposal he announced on 31 May and had secured a comprehensive agreement for the three-part ceasefire plan, including from Israel.

“Everyone from the United Nations Security Council, straight through the G7 to the Israelis and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu have endorsed the plan that I put forward,” Biden said.

“The only one who wants the war to continue is Hamas,” he said.

WATCH: Trump: ‘Let Israel finish the job’ in Gaza

Hamas has been “greatly weakened” by Israel, the President said, adding that they “should be eliminated”.

In the debate, Biden said: “The only one who doesn’t want to end the war is Hamas.”

He said that the only thing he held from Israel were 2,000-pound (907-kg) bombs capable of causing significant civilian damage, stressing that Israel is receiving “all the weapons they need” from the US.

On US assistance to Israel during Iran’s air attacks this April, Biden stressed that he “organised the world against Iran’s attack” and emphasized that they “saved” Israel without the need for Israeli fatalities.

Trump’s ‘bad Palestinian’

For his part of Thursday night’s showdown, Trump criticised Biden’s stance, calling him a so-called “bad Palestinian” and accusing him of preventing Israel from “finishing the job” against Hamas.

Trump’s use of the phrase “bad Palestinian” to criticise Biden sparked anger on social media. Some users labelled the comment racist, while others called it an insult.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim civil rights group, said on X that Trump used the word Palestinian as a “racist insult”.

The former President added: “As far as Israel and Hamas, Israel’s the one that wants to go. He (Biden) said the only one who wants to keep going is Hamas. Actually, Israel is the one, and you should let ’em go and let ’em finish the job.”

“He doesn’t want to do it. He’s become like a Palestinian, but they don’t like him because he’s a very bad Palestinian. He’s a weak one.”

When asked if he would support an independent Palestinian State, Trump hesitated, saying: “I’d have to see.”

The US has been roundly criticised globally for supporting Israel’s slaughter on Gaza, with both words and weapons, even as the death toll rose into the tens of thousands, leading to formal charges of genocide, and the UN and humanitarian groups declared an Israeli blockade throwing millions of Palestinians into famine.

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since a 7 October, 2023 attack by Hamas.

More than 37,700 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and over 86,400 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Over eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in its latest ruling has ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on 6 May.

WATCH: Biden calls protest against occupied land sale ‘anti-Semitic’