Biden says he did not ask for cease-fire in call with Israel’s Netanyahu

Biden says he did not ask for cease-fire in call with Israel’s Netanyahu

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President Biden said that he did not ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate a cease-fire in the country’s war with Hamas during a call Saturday, despite rising pressure to do so.

Biden told reporters that he had a “long talk” with Netanyahu, not discussing its contents, later adding that he did not ask for a cease-fire.

The international community has nearly unanimously urged the U.S. and Israel to push for a cease-fire in Gaza, as the Palestinian death toll from the Israeli military offensive rises.

Over 20,000 Palestinians have died in the war, Gaza health officials said, and nearly the entirety of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is in dire need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

In a U.N. vote last week, just eight countries joined Israel and the U.S. in voting against a cease-fire resolution, and the U.S. abstained on a U.N. Security Council vote Friday on Gaza aid after negotiating for days to water down the measure.

Within the U.S., a rising number of lawmakers and members of the public have also called on the Biden administration to change its Israel policy. 

A half dozen moderate Democrats urged the administration to step up pressure on Israel to end its all-out ground offensive on Gaza this week in a letter to the president.

“We are deeply concerned by [Netanyahu’s] current military strategy in Gaza. The mounting civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis are unacceptable and not in line with American interests; nor do they advance the cause of security for our ally Israel,” the letter reads.

“We also believe it jeopardizes efforts to destroy the terrorist organization Hamas and secure the release of all hostages,” the lawmakers continued.

American support for military aid to Israel among the public has also waned since the start of the war in early October. 

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