Israel Prime Minister Benjamin (l) Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden (File Image)
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin (l) Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden (File Image)

Biden 'expresses support for Gaza ceasefire' in call with Netanyahu

ANI | Updated: May 18, 2021 06:29 IST

Washington [US] May 18 (ANI): US President Joe Biden, in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, expressed his support for a ceasefire in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas, the Palestinian military group in Gaza.
"The President expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end. The two leaders agreed that they and their teams would remain in close touch," according to a readout of the call released by the White House.
In the call, Biden "reiterated his firm support for Israel's right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks" and "encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians."
The call between Biden and Netanyahu on Monday was the third in less than a week as the violence has intensified.
The President welcomed efforts to address intercommunal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem.The two leaders discussed "progress in Israel's military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza."
Egypt is considered a key interlocutor in dealing with Hamas and negotiating with the Israelis on efforts to achieve a cease-fire. The U.S. does not speak with Hamas, which it considers as a terrorist organization, The Hill reported.
Biden has faced increasing pressure from Democrats leading up to the call on Monday, particularly after an Israeli strike on a Gaza building that housed The Associated Press and other international media organizations. Israeli airstrikes are said to have killed at least 42 civilians in Gaza on Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Monday that he wants "to see a ceasefire reached quickly and mourn the loss of life."
Earlier, Biden also spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and discussed the violence in Gaza, in which he called for Hamas, the authority's rival, to stop firing rockets into Israel.
It was the first phone call between the two leaders since Biden assumed office.
President Biden "stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel", and the two men "expressed their shared concern that innocent civilians, including children, have tragically lost their lives amidst the ongoing violence," the White House said.
The White House says Biden "expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve" and highlighted the recent US decision to resume assistance to the Palestinian people, including economic and humanitarian assistance to benefit Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
The death toll in Palestine due to Israeli airstrikes has reached 198 on Monday, said Health Ministry in Gaza. (ANI)