update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden admin official repeatedly won’t say who’d run Palestinian state

"Why do you think that we should make a country out of a people that just conducted a Jewish genocide four months ago?" Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) asked the Biden administration official.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Feb. 14, 2024. Source: YouTube/House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans.
Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Feb. 14, 2024. Source: YouTube/House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) pressed Bonnie Jenkins, U.S. under secretary of state for arms control and international security, repeatedly at a House hearing about who would run the Palestinian state, for which the Biden administration is calling.

“Have you analyzed that objectively?” he asked Jenkins of the policy of a Palestinian state.

“No, I have not, if I understand your question,” she said, testifying on Feb. 14 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “AUKUS implementation and challenges to international security and arms control in the 21st century.”

“You might not because I can’t believe that you would answer it in that way,” Mast said.

Jenkins then said she had assessed it.

“Who would you assess would lead that Palestinian state?” Mast asked. “Pick a group. You can name a group, but I’m saying Hamas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah, some other group. Who would lead it?”

“I think that has to be something that’s considered. I don’t think I’m in a position to say,” Jenkins said.

Mast asked who was determined to be the likely leader of the Palestinian state when the State Department did its objective analysis.

“I don’t think that I can answer that question,” she said. “This is part of a larger discussion.”

Mast continued to press the State Department official. “What group that does not receive military support from, say, Iran do you assess would lead that state?” he asked.

Jenkins again dodged. “I understand your question, but I think I would have to have a little—I would, I don’t feel comfortable saying that without having more understanding,” she said.

“Have you not assessed what group would lead it?” Mast asked.

“This is part of a larger discussion,” Jenkins said.

“You can’t answer whether you have or have not assessed who would lead that state?” he asked. “You came here and said there should be a Palestinian state. Have you or have you not assessed who would lead that?”

“I support a two-state solution,” she said. “I know,” Mast responded. “You said that numerous times.”

When Mast asked Jenkins to say, without naming who would run the Palestinian state, whether there has been an assessment of who would run it, the official said, “Put it this way. There will be an assessment of this question within the U.S. government.”

He moved on to another line of questioning. “Do you assess that a Palestinian state would be more likely to be designated as a major non-NATO ally, like Israel or Egypt, or would you assess that they would have to be labeled a state sponsor of terror?” he asked.

Jenkins said she couldn’t answer the question.

“You are in the position to answer if you have assessed whether that would be the case,” Mast said. “You came here, sitting before Congress, saying you are here representing the idea that there should be a Palestinian state. You said you looked at it objectively, which you probably didn’t. And I’m asking if you assessed that. So you can answer whether you assessed something or not.”

“Let me ask one more question. Why do you think that we should make a country out of a people that just conducted a Jewish genocide four months ago?” Mast asked.

“I’m not sure what you’re asking here,” Jenkins said.

Mast repeated the question.

“I want to answer your question. I really do,” she said. “But I just don’t feel like I’m in the position right now that I can answer those type of questions. This is a question for the U.S. government.”

“You’re the U.S. government,” Mast said.

“The Biden administration wants to create a Palestinian state, but refuses to say who would run it or whether they would be considered our ally,” Mast wrote on social media. “Here’s the obvious truth: Hamas is the popularly-elected government, and as a result, a Palestinian state would be run by terrorists.”

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