Faced with growing pressure from advocates and members of his own Democratic Party, US President Joe Biden has expressed support for a ceasefire to end violence in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement Monday, the White House said Biden “expressed support for a ceasefire and discussed the United States’ engagement with Egypt and other partners to that end” at the meeting. ‘a phone call with Acting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The president reiterated his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks,” the statement read.
A day earlier, Netanyahu had mentionned the Israeli military offensive against Gaza would continue “head-on”; Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since May 10 have killed more than 212 people, including 61 children, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli bombings, which began on May 10 after rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel.
Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules the stranded Palestinian territory, said the rockets were fired in retaliation for the forced evictions of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and the Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Biden “praised efforts to tackle inter-communal violence and restore calm to Jerusalem” and “urged Israel to do everything possible to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” the White House said after reading the appeal. with Netanyahu.
Since the fighting erupted, Biden and senior officials in his administration have publicly supported Israel unequivocally, while insisting that they are working through diplomatic and military channels to try to defuse the violence.
But the United States for a third time blocked a UN statement condemning Israel for its deadly military offensive in Gaza – drawing widespread criticism.
US Army General Mark Milley on Monday warned of potential destabilization beyond the Gaza Strip following continued fighting. “It is in no one’s best interests to keep fighting,” Milley told reporters shortly before landing in Brussels for talks with NATO allies, Reuters news agency reported.
“My assessment is that you risk a wider destabilization and that you risk a whole series of negative consequences if the fighting continues,” Milley said. “De-escalation is a smart course of action at this point for all parties involved.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah, during an appeal with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, stressed Monday that “the international community must shoulder its responsibility and act effectively to stop the Israeli attacks and prevent their recurrence. , as well as to stop the aggression against Gaza, ”the royal court said in a statement.
John Hendren of Al Jazeera, of Washington, DC, said Biden had been criticized by both Republicans and progressive members of the Democratic Party.
In a moving address to the House on May 13, Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, criticized Biden and other senior administration officials for failing to recognize “Palestinian humanity” amid Israeli air strikes.
“These words are louder than we would have heard in the past,” said Hendren, of recent comments from Tlaib and other progressive Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
To finish!! Our delay in supporting a ceasefire has resulted in the slaughter of children and the destruction of lives.
Now Biden must push to end the occupation. https://t.co/pfgDoIfpK0
– Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 17, 2021
Meanwhile, a group of 25 Democratic senators signed a public letter to Biden over the weekend calling for an immediate ceasefire.
As the Palestinian death toll continued to rise in Gaza on Monday, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has always been a staunch supporter of Israel, also called for a ceasefire.
“I want to see a ceasefire reach quickly and mourn the loss of life,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill, saying he supported an earlier statement by a Democrat and Republican in the Senate calling for a ceasefire. -fire.
“Due to the rocket attacks by Hamas and Israel’s response, both sides must recognize that too many lives have been lost and must not further escalate the conflict,” the May 16 statement read. Senators Chris Murphy and Todd Young.
Hendren said that “what is striking” is that a majority of Senate Democrats signed the letter encouraging Biden to call for a ceasefire as soon as possible. “This is an implicit criticism of Democrats that he is not doing enough,” he said.
Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, said the Biden administration followed in the footsteps of previous presidents who supported Israel in times of crisis.
“Washington is systematically responding to Israeli assaults on Gaza, or Lebanon, by refusing to allow the UN to push for an immediate ceasefire … and by sending additional weapons to bolster the current arsenal provided by the United States, “Bennis told Al Jazeera in an email Monday.