Biden Praises Israel-Hamas Deal, Vowing Continued U.S. Diplomacy
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden praised a truce between Israel and Hamas after an 11-day conflict over the Gaza Strip killed more than 200 people and led to rising pressure in the U.S. to distance itself from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said at the White House on Thursday. “My administration will continue our quiet relentless diplomacy toward that end.”
Israel and Hamas agreed late Thursday to an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire designed to end their 11-day conflict. The announcement came amid growing pressure from the Biden administration to stop the fighting, which killed an estimated 232 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.
Israel’s security cabinet unanimously voted to approve Egypt’s proposal for an unconditional truce with Hamas, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. The cease-fire will take effect at 2 a.m. local time on Friday, Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV reported, citing senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan.
Biden on Wednesday urged Netanyahu to end the fighting, telling the Israeli leader during a phone call he expected a “significant de-escalation today” according to the White House.
The president also faced pressure from some Democrats to take a harder line against the Israeli government and voice stronger support for the Palestinians, who suffered heavy losses in the fighting. But in a signal to Democrats who wanted to halt weapons sales to Israel, Biden said he is willing to help “replenish” the Iron Dome missile defense system Israel deployed to stop Hamas’ rockets from the Gaza Strip.
Biden had been hesitant to publicly criticize the Israeli government, delaying for several days any public call for a cease-fire. And on Thursday he reiterated previous remarks that Israel has a right to defend itself.
The conflict also showed the limits of the administration’s power to act as a mediator in matters related to Hamas, which runs Gaza and is designated a terrorist group by the U.S., European Union and others.
Palestinians, including the rival Palestinian Authority that oversees the West Bank, are wary of the U.S. government playing the role of peacemaker after four years of being sidelined by former President Donald Trump.
In this conflict, the Egyptian government, which has ties with both Israel and Hamas, was called on to broker a truce. Biden spoke to his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi earlier Thursday to discuss the cease-fire negotiations.
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