October 21, 2023 – Cairo, Egypt
President El-Sisi, heads of state and government, ministers, colleagues:
The United States is grateful for the leadership demonstrated by President Sisi and the Egyptian government to gather us all in Cairo today to recommit ourselves to the prospect of a peaceful, stable Middle East.
In contrast to that vision, on October 7 Hamas unleashed pure, unadulterated evil on Israel and civilians as well as the Palestinian people – whom they purport to represent – in a demonstration of moral depravity, exasperation, and political weakness. More than 1,400 people were slaughtered in Israel. Scores of innocents — from infants to elderly grandparents, Israelis, Americans, and others — taken hostage. These actions demonstrated Hamas’ disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the Palestinian people, whom it placed in harm’s way and in the crosshairs of Israel’s efforts to defend itself and its citizens.
Palestinian civilians are not to blame and should not suffer for Hamas’ horrific terrorism. President Biden cautioned Israel not to become blinded by rage. Civilian lives must be protected, and assistance must urgently reach those in need. We will continue to work closely with our partners in the region to stress the importance of upholding the law of war, respect for international humanitarian law, supporting those who are trying to get people to safety or provide assistance, and facilitating access to food, water, medical care, and shelter.
I want to make our position clear: like everyone in this hall, the United States knows that the vast majority of Palestinians are not Hamas, and Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. To conflate the two only prolongs part of the misunderstanding at the very heart of this crisis. The
United States remains committed to the Palestinian people’s right to dignity, to self-determination. We are still the world’s largest contributor of aid to the Palestinian people and remain committed to their aspirations for a two-state solution. I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life, including the explosion at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza. As President Biden has said, we mourn every innocent life lost, particularly those of innocent children and stand with the Palestinian people who want to live in peace and have opportunity for themselves and their children. We cannot marginalize the very same community we need as part of an ultimate solution.
In recognition of this need, on October 18 President Biden announced that the United States is providing $100 million in humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. This funding will help support over a million displaced and conflict-affected people with clean water, food, hygiene support, medical care, and other essential needs—people already being helped through existing U.S. support to partners. The President has also asked for over $10 billion in supplemental funding to address humanitarian crises around the world, including in Gaza. We are grateful for the constructive and thoughtful engagement of our Egyptian partners to build the mechanisms necessary to allow humanitarian assistance to flow into Gaza via the Rafah border crossing for distribution by UN and other humanitarian agencies to the Palestinian people. We thank Egypt, Israel and the UN for the first truck convoy of assistance that went through Rafah earlier today.
To ensure we are doing everything possible to help get urgent assistance into Gaza, President Biden named Ambassador David Satterfield as the U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues. Ambassador Satterfield is in the region and is working in lockstep with the UN, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and other regional stakeholders to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the Palestinian people in need.
More broadly, President Biden and Secretary Blinken have unequivocally reaffirmed the United States’ support for a durable, lasting peace in the
Middle East, built on the foundation of a two-state solution. We must keep pursuing a path so that Israel and the Palestinian people can both live safely, in security, in dignity, and in peace. Egypt is an indispensable partner in that endeavor.