Biden says Israel has right to defend itself, must protect civilians

U.S. President Biden hosts Australia’s Prime Minister Albanese for official state visit at the White House in Washington

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he believes Israel needs to defend its citizens while protecting innocent civilians in Gaza who are victims of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

"Israel has to do everything in its power, as difficult as it is, to protect innocent civilians," Biden said during a press conference as part of a White House visit by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Biden also said the region must prepare for the end of the Israeli-Hamas conflict and "what comes next." and that the U.S. maintained its position on a "two-state solution" for Israelis and Palestinians.

Biden also expressed concern about "extremist settlers" attacking Palestinians in the West Bank, accusing them of adding fuel to fire.

"They're attacking Palestinians in places that they're entitled to be," he said

(Reporting By Jarrett RenshawEditing by Chris Reese and Deepa Babington)