Sen. Chris Van Hollen joined ABC’s “This Week” with guest host Jonathan Karl on Sunday to speak about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and what the path toward a genuine two-state solution in the region looks like. In light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent statement that he is “proud” to have thwarted a Palestinian state, Van Hollen said, “He has shut the door on that effort.”
Maryland’s junior senator said in full, “This is a direct response to President Biden calling a two-state solution, ultimately, the only political settlement that’s viable.”
“And here’s the thing about Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Van Hollen added. “He has continued to weaken the Palestinian Authority. This is the organization that recognized Israel’s right to exist decades ago.”
“He has shut the door on that effort,” Van Hollen said. “Meanwhile, as you’ve seen, there have been lots of reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu actually supported efforts to finance Hamas.”
On Saturday, Netanyahu said that the idea he funded Hamas, or supported efforts that supplied the terrorist group with funding, “is a fiction that they are always nurturing… The truth is what I’m telling you now.” However, this claim flew in the face of reports that indicate otherwise.
On Oct. 8, one day after the Hamas attacks that tragically took Israelis by surprise, The Times of Israel published a piece titled “For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces.” In it, journalist Tal Schneider wrote that Netanyahu’s focus on preventing a Palestinian state led by the Palestinian Authority meant that “amid this bid to impair Abbas, Hamas was upgraded from a mere terror group to an organization with which Israel held indirect negotiations via Egypt, and one that was allowed to receive infusions of cash from abroad.”
Schneider added, “Hamas was also included in discussions about increasing the number of work permits Israel granted to Gazan laborers, which kept money flowing into Gaza, meaning food for families and the ability to purchase basic products.” The writer later accused Netanyahu and his government of “turning a blind eye” to rocket fire from Gaza that was launched by Hamas.
On Dec. 10, the New York Times weighed in on the allegation. In “‘Buying Quiet’: Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas,” authors Mark Mazzetti and Ronen Bergman asserted that David Barnea, the head of Israeli intelligence service Mossad, had a meeting in Doha only weeks before the Oct. 7 attacks to discuss millions of dollars that has been sent from Qatar to Gaza — money that supported Hamas — and that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel not only tolerated those payments, he had encouraged them.”
Mazzetti and Bergman add, “The payments were part of a string of decisions by Israeli political leaders, military officers and intelligence officials — all based on the fundamentally flawed assessment that Hamas was neither interested in nor capable of a large-scale attack.”
They also reported, “Even as the Israeli military obtained battle plans for a Hamas invasion and analysts observed significant terrorism exercises just over the border in Gaza, the payments continued. For years, Israeli intelligence officers even escorted a Qatari official into Gaza, where he doled out money from suitcases filled with millions of dollars.”
Elsewhere in the ABC interview, Van Hollen said that Hamas is not “a partner for peace” in the region, but that “you need to have Palestinians who have long accepted Israel’s right to exist to be able to govern and represent the people within the Palestinian area.”
Karl and Van Hollen also addressed “unacceptably high levels of civilian casualties” in Gaza. As of Dec. 9, Reuters reported that more than 17,000 Gazans have been killed in the war.
“And when it comes to the humanitarian crisis,” Van Hollen continued, “we still have a near-total siege.”
Watch the interview with Sen. Van Hollen in the video above.