Harris says US will ‘under no circumstances’ permit forced relocation of Palestinians

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Vice President Kamala Harris said in a meeting Saturday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that Washington will not allow for the forced relocation of Palestinians or any redrawing of the current border of the Gaza Strip.

“Under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza,” Harris said, according to a statement from the vice president’s office.

The vice president, who is currently in the United Arab Emirates attending the COP 28 summit in Dubai, has been on the front lines of US diplomatic efforts, speaking with the leaders of Egypt, the UAE and Jordan amid the climate summit.

Harris said Saturday that while the US supports Israel’s “legitimate military objectives” in Gaza, the civilian suffering inside the enclave has been too high. The vice president said that she spoke in depth with several key leaders in the region about what expectations the US will have with regard to post-conflict planning.

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering, and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating,” Harris said at a press conference in Dubai. “It is truly heartbreaking.”

Israel said its military campaign in Gaza is aimed at destroying Hamas, the militant Islamist group responsible for the October 7 terror attack that left more than 1,200 Israelis dead and saw another 240 taken hostage.

However, regional leaders like Jordan’s King Abdullah II have expressed concerns that Israel could use the conflict to seize parts of Gaza or expel its Palestinian residents.

It’s unclear what role Israel plans to play after the conflict ends. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN in November that Israel’s security role in a post-war Gaza would be an “over-riding, over-reaching military envelope,” but did not explain what that meant.

During their meeting, Harris and Sisi discussed “ideas for post-conflict planning in Gaza including efforts on reconstruction, security, and governance,” the statement said.

“She (Harris) emphasized that these efforts can only succeed if they are pursued in the context of a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people towards a state of their own led by a revitalized Palestinian Authority and have significant support from the international community and the countries of the region.”

Harris also spoke with the Emir of Qatar after negotiations over resuming a pause in hostilities between Israel and Hamas appeared to break down on Saturday, according to a White House official.

Harris has been on dozens of calls between President Joe Biden and the Israeli prime minister since the war started as well as calls between Biden and the Emir of Qatar and President of Egypt, according to the official.

While Israel and Hamas continued to negotiate through mediators on Friday, the Israeli prime minister’s office announced Saturday that they had recalled their team of negotiators and that they had reached a “dead end” in the talks.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Shania Shelton contributed to this report.

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