Biden Speaks With Netanyahu Amid Israeli-Palestinian Clashes
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday amid a surge of Israeli-Palestinian violence, which he said he believes is resolving itself.
“My expectation and hope is that this’ll be closing down sooner than later,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “But Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”
The most violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in years erupted earlier this week, with the militant group Hamas repeatedly firing rockets deep into Israel from the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military responding with air strikes. More than 60 Palestinians have been reported killed in Gaza, and at least six people in Israel.
The bombardments escalated sharply Tuesday evening as Hamas unleashed a massive volley of rockets at metropolitan Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial heartland, and Israel’s south, overwhelming its missile defenses. Netanyahu warned that “Hamas will pay a very heavy price for its aggression,” and a torrent of air strikes followed, targeting military facilities, buildings used by the group, and key intelligence and military commanders.
The U.S. is sending Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs to the the region. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also spoken to Netanyahu and told him it was “vital now to deescalate.” Blinken also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the State Department said on Wednesday evening.
During his call with Netanyahu, Biden “condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups,” the White House said in an account of the conversation. The president conveyed “his unwavering support for Israel’s security and for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”
Biden also told Netanyahu that the U.S. encourages “a pathway toward restoring a sustainable calm.”
He used the call to update Netanyahu on American officials’ recent diplomatic engagements with Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Palestinian officials. They agreed to stay in touch in the days ahead and for their teams to continue close consultation, the White House said.
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