WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days but nothing has been finalized, a senior administration official said Sunday.
The news comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been traveling around the Mideast this past week trying to prevent the war with Hamas from igniting a broader regional conflict. Biden has staunchly proclaimed his support for Israel and a trip there would be a firm sign of U.S. support following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.
The official could not publicly discuss internal deliberations about the potential presidential travel and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Yet in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, the president warned Israel not to reoccupy Gaza, in his strongest public effort to hold Israel back after the attack that killed more than 1,300 people, including at least 30 U.S. citizens.
“I think it’d be a big mistake,” Biden said. “Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas, and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.”
Still, he said, “taking out the extremists … is a necessary requirement.”
Biden and his administration officials have refused to criticize Israel or its bombing campaign that has killed civilians in Gaza.