Faced with growing pressure from rights defenders and members of his own Democratic Party, U.S. President Joe Biden has conveyed his support for a ceasefire to end violence in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement Monday, the White House said Biden “expressed his support for the ceasefire and discussed the U.S. commitment to Egypt and other partners to that end” in a phone call with the caretaker prime minister. Israeli, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The president reiterated his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks,” the statement said.
A day earlier, Netanyahu had dit the Israeli military offensive in Gaza would continue “with full force”; Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip since May 10 have killed more than 212 people, including 61 children, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli bombings, which began on May 10 after the rocket launch from Gaza into Israel.
Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules the blocked Palestinian territory, said the rockets were launched in retaliation for the forced expulsions of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Biden “welcomed the efforts to deal with inter-communal violence and bring calm to Jerusalem” and “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” the White House reading said. of the call with Netanyahu.
Since the fighting broke out, Biden and senior officials in his administration have unequivocally publicly supported Israel, insisting that they work through diplomatic and military channels to try to reduce violence.
But the US for the third time locked a UN statement condemning Israel for its deadly military offensive in Gaza, which has drawn widespread criticism.
U.S. Army General Mark Milley warned Monday of possible destabilization beyond the Gaza Strip by continued fighting. “No one is interested in continuing to fight,” Milley told reporters shortly before landing in Brussels to talk to NATO allies, Reuters news agency reported.
“My assessment is that you risk a wider destabilization and that you risk a whole host of negative consequences if the fighting continues,” Milley said. “De-escalation is a smart course of action right now for all stakeholders.”
Jordanian King Abdullah, in a call on Monday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, stressed that “the international community must take responsibility and move forward effectively to stop Israeli attacks and prevent their recurrence,” as well as stopping the aggression in Gaza, ”the royal court said in a statement.
John Hendren, of Al Jazeera, a Washington informant, said Biden had faced criticism from both Republicans and Democratic Party progressives.
In an emotional speech on the floor of the House on May 13, Representative Rashida Tlaib, an American Palestinian, criticized Biden and other senior administration officials for failing to recognize “Palestinian humanity” in the midst of Israeli airstrikes.
“Those words are stronger than we would have heard in the past,” Hendren said, about recent comments from Tlaib and other Progressive Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Finally !! Our delay in supporting the ceasefire has caused the killing of children and the destruction of lives.
Now Biden must press for an end to 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 number of Palestinian deaths continued to rise in Gaza on Monday, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has traditionally been a staunch supporter of Israel, also called for a ceasefire.
“I want to see the ceasefire come quickly and mourn the loss of lives,” Schumer told reporters at the U.S. Capitol, saying he supported an earlier statement from a Senate Democrat and Republican calling for a ceasefire on fire.
“As a result of the Hamas rocket attacks and Israel’s response, both sides must acknowledge that too many lives have been lost and must not further heat up the conflict,” the statement said on Monday. May of Senators Chris Murphy and Todd Young.
Hendren said “what’s striking” is that most Senate Democrats had signed the letter encouraging Biden to call for a ceasefire as soon as possible. “This is an implicit critique of Democrats that doesn’t do enough,” he said.
Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute of Political Studies in Washington, DC, said the Biden administration has followed in the footsteps of previous presidents who supported Israel in times of crisis.
“Washington is constantly responding to Israeli aggression against Gaza or Lebanon, by refusing to allow the UN to push for an immediate ceasefire … and to send additional weapons to bolster the current US-supplied arsenal in the United States.” Bennis told Al Jazeera in an email Monday.