Biden tells Netanyahu that continued US support depends on protecting civilians

The US president urged Netanyahu to consider an immediate ceasefire fire in his country’s war on Hamas


President Joe Biden in Washington, DC (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden expressed his desire to see an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza during a call on Thursday with Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu in which he urged him to do more to protect civilians in Gaza.

The call comes days after seven aid workers from the humanitarian group World Central Kitchen were killed when the car they were traveling in across Gaza was struck by the Israel Defense Forces. Israel has vowed to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident, calling it a “misidentification.”

According to White House National Security Communications advisor John Kirby, Biden told Netanyahu that Israel must “announce and implement a series of specific, concrete and measurable steps to address civilian harm and the safety of aid workers.” US policy on Gaza, Kirby continued, will be “determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on this step.”

Biden also “underscored that an immediate ceasefire is needed to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and to protect innocent civilians” said Kirby.

In addition, Biden urged Netanyahu to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal “without delay” to bring the hostages home.

Some members of congress were quick to criticize the president.

“It’s Hamas that has rejected a ceasefire, not Israel,” wrote Republican Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Twitter. “Instead of attacking our ally, Joe Biden should demand Hamas release the hostages.”

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman, a Democrat who has been vocal in his support for Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks, tweeted a link to a New York Times story on the call writing on Twitter, “In this war war against Hamas—no conditions for Israel.”

Also on Thursday, Netanyahu met with a Republican congressional delegation where the discussions included the efforts being made to get the hostages in Gaza home, the war with Hamas and humanitarian aid efforts.

Netanyahu told the Republican group that the war Israel is fighting goes beyond Hamas and is a battle against “barbarism” that threatens “our entire civilization.”

“This is a battle between not only Israel and Hamas, but I would say the axis of Iran, the terror axis of Iran that seeks to put the Middle East back into the Dark Ages and to force a terrible barbarism on us all, really. …” he said, noting that there is “no substitute for victory.”

The prime minister also expressed his opposition to efforts by some in the international community and the US government as well to “force, to ram down our throats a Palestinian state, which will be another terror haven, another launching ground for an attempt, as was the Hamas state in Gaza.”

Forcing the creation of a Palestinian state, he said, “is opposed by Israelis, overwhelmingly.”

The congressional delegation’s visit to Israel was organized by AIPAC and during their time in Israel, they also visited a kibbutz attacked on October 7 and visited the site of the Nova music festival.

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