Biden to Netanyahu: Save Gaza's civilian population

Speaking on March 17, 2024, in Washington, DC, on Saint Patrick’s Day, President Joe Biden is joined by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the East Room of the White House.

Biden to Netanyahu: Synopsis of Firms’Immediate ceasefire,’ calls Biden; pushes for hostage settlement
The White House anticipates more actions from Israel in the “coming hours and days.”

April 4, Washington, DC (Reuters) – For the first time, President Joe Biden attempted to use U.S. assistance to influence Israeli military actions on Thursday by threatening to withhold funding for Israel’s attack in Gaza until it took proactive measures to save civilians and humanitarian workers.

In response to a fatal Israeli attack on World Central Kitchen aid workers, which prompted fresh calls from Biden’s fellow Democrats to impose limits on U.S. funding to Israel, Biden issued a warning that was repeated in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday. Israel claimed that the strike was an error.

The president of the United States, who has always supported Israel, has resisted calls to cut off money or stop sending weaponry to the nation. His ultimatum was the first time he had implied that aid might be conditional, which could alter the course of the conflict, which has been going on for almost six months.

After speaking with the leaders over the phone, Biden “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers,” according to the White House. The call reportedly lasted for around thirty minutes.

According to a statement from the White House, the president “made clear that The way the United States approaches Gaza will depend on how we evaluate Israel’s prompt response to these measures.”

As Israel’s principal arms supplier, Washington has mostly benefited from the Biden administration’s diplomatic cover at the UN.
White House spokesman John Kirby declined to go into detail at a briefing following the call regarding any particular adjustments the US would be making to its policy toward Israel and Gaza.

In the “coming hours and days,” he stated, Washington hoped to see an announcement of Israeli steps.
In order to quell the killings and reduce hunger among innocent civilians, Biden channeled his own frustration and growing pressure from his left-leaning political base in the Democratic Party by implying that a change in U.S. if Israel failed to address the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave, policies regarding Gaza may still be implemented.

Tel Heinrich, a spokesman for Netanyahu, told Fox News that “I think it’s something that Washington will have to explain” when asked about potential changes in US policy.
Subsequently, the White House applauded Israel’s efforts to open the Ashdod port and the Erez gate in order to boost aid delivery to Gaza from Jordan and to expand humanitarian aid deliveries overall.

Biden to Netanyahu: Save Gaza's civilian population, or US policy will shift
On Wednesday, October 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv, Israel, U.S. President Joe Biden, left, stops during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to talk about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

However, Adrienne Watson, a spokesman for the White House, stated that these actions “must now be fully and rapidly implemented.”

Seven employees of the World Central Kitchen organization, which was started by renowned chef Jose Andres, were killed in an attack that Israel launched on Monday. In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Andres stated that his charity workers had been “systematically, car by car, targeted” by the Israeli bombardment.

Israel declared on Thursday that: it will modify its strategy in the Gaza War and that the results of the investigation would be released to the public shortly, characterizing the attack as the consequence of a misidentification.
The president has not significantly altered Washington’s unwavering support for Israel in its fight before Thursday’s call, despite the White House characterizing Biden as horrified and devastated by the incident.

Three days after Israeli drone strikes that claimed the lives of seven workers at World Central Kitchen, including one American, Biden and Netanyahu had their first conversation for thirty minutes on Thursday. It was the most recent indication that the Biden administration is seriously reevaluating its extensive backing of Israel since Hamas began the war on October 7 by killing over 1,200 Israeli citizens and capturing about 250 more.

Biden “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps,” according to a readout of the White House conversation.
to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers.” (A readout was not provided by Netanyahu’s office.) “He made it clear that our evaluation of Israel’s immediate action on these steps will determine U.S. policy with respect to Gaza.”

Biden to Netanyahu: Save Gaza's civilian population, or US policy will shift

As to the White House, Biden emphasized during the call that “an immediate ceasefire is essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians.” It further stated that Biden asked Netanyahu to give his negotiators the authority to reach a settlement to return captives taken by Hamas in the fatal incident on October 7 that set off the Israeli offensive.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared in Brussels that Israel “must meet this moment” by stepping up relief efforts and guaranteeing the safety of those delivering it.

Blinken informed reporters, “If we don’t see the changes that we need to see, there will be changes in our policy.”According to an American official, Biden’s insistence for a ceasefire was unaffected by the prospect of policy changes, which only related to American demands that Israel do more to safeguard and assist civilians.

Former US President Donald Trump criticized Israel for how it was handling the Gaza War, claiming that it was “absolutely losing the PR war” and that it needed to wrap up its campaign quickly. Trump stated, “I’m not sure that I’m loving the way they’re doing it, because you have to have victory,” during an interview with Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host. “They’re losing the PR war,” he continued. However, they must quickly complete what they have begun, and we must move on with our lives.”

Final Straw
According to Israeli estimates, Islamist terrorists from the Palestinian militant organization Hamas stormed Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 prisoners.
More than 33,000 Palestinians have died as a result of Israel’s air and military assault on Gaza, which was imposed in retaliation by Hamas-ruled Gaza’s health officials.

Biden, who identifies as a Zionist, firmly backed Israel throughout the initial stages of its counterattack.
However, his government started to press for a truce and access for humanitarian supplies as the number of casualties in Gaza increased and the conflict expanded to include new fronts in Yemen and Lebanon. Israeli wrath was aroused last month when the United States abstained from a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

In addition, Biden’s handling of the Gaza war has deep-seated Democratic resentment, which could hurt him in November’s race. The walkout by WCK assistance workers, according to Laura Blumenfeld, a Middle East specialist at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, “was the last straw.”

“This call was the long-promised ‘come to Jesus conversation’ that Biden said last month he would have with Netanyahu,” Blumenfeld stated.

In a previous statement, Biden said he thought Israel was not doing enough to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, and he believed the fatalities at World Central Kitchen were not isolated. Israel has acknowledged that the deaths were an error and has since taken steps to reduce the hazards to relief workers, such as stepping up communication between the military command and assistance organizations.

Biden to Netanyahu: Save Gaza's civilian population, or US policy will shift

In February, Biden signed an executive order that seemed to be directed at his worries that Israel was not doing enough to permit the help, stipulating that military support to friends should only be provided if humanitarian relief could reach people in the area where the weapons are being used.

Threats from Iran to exact revenge for the killing of a senior IRG Corps official in Syria—which it has attributed to Israel—have consumed Netanyahu’s attention. As to the White House readout, which concluded with a statement reaffirming the partnership between the United States and Israel, that matter was also discussed during the Thursday discussion. Israeli soldiers raid the West Bank’s Hebron.
Several Hebron neighborhoods have been stormed by Israeli forces, who have made several arrests, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Wafa reports: that Israeli forces attacked three adolescents in the town of Beit Ummar, which is north of Hebron, causing minor injuries.

It stated that earlier today, Israeli forces had seized the town. They allegedly used tear gas and live ammunition during raids on multiple homes. Israel updates the status of supplies entering Gaza
Aid trucks reached the Gaza Strip today, according to Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office, numbering 245.

Israel has been under heavy fire for allegedly obstructing humanitarian supplies reaching Gaza, with a number of non-governmental organizations and human rights groups accusing it of doing so on purpose as starvation warnings for the beleaguered enclave grow.

The news also comes days after seven relief workers, with the World Central Kitchen (WCK) food charity were slain in an Israeli attack: A number of humanitarian relief organizations, including WCK, have decided to temporarily halt operations in Gaza while they evaluate the security situation in response to the incident.

In his hometown, there was a vigil for the Polish humanitarian worker who was killed in Gaza.
In Przemysl, Poland, the hometown of Damian Sobol, mourners have gathered to honor him. Along with six other World Central Kitchen (WCK) employees, the 35-year-old was murdered in an Israeli air attack on Monday while in Gaza working with the charity to aid Palestinians.

The Przemysl train station was the gathering place for the hundreds of mourners, according to the PAP news agency. At the location where he had started his humanitarian work path—where he had volunteered to assist Ukrainians fleeing their country in February 2022—they lit candles. Israeli apologies, compensation for Sobol’s family, and an international probe into the incident were demanded by Polish authorities.

According to Stefan Moskowicz, a fellow local charity worker, hearing of Sobol’s passing “was like a blow to the head,” he also told TVN.

Declaring himself “outraged and heartbroken” by the tragic strike, which sparked widespread condemnation, Mr. Biden said on Tuesday. According to Israeli officials, the strike was an error that happened accidentally.

The World Central Kitchen workers’ strike has emerged as the most recent area of contention in the relationship between the US and Israel. Since the US is Israel’s primary supplier of armaments and military hardware, it has considerable influence over the country.

Biden to Netanyahu: Save Gaza's civilian population, or US policy will shift

Head of the World Central Kitchen José Andrés claimed: that prior to Monday’s attack, the non-profit humanitarian group had been informing the Israeli Defense Forces of the movements of its employees. He charged that Israel was “deliberately” attacking the humanitarian workers in a Reuters interview.

Andrés told the news agency, “This was not just a bad luck situation where, ‘Oops, we dropped a bomb in the wrong place,'” stressing that the cars belonging to his business were prominently marked. According to Andrés, the cars were attacked “systematically, car by car.”

The economy minister for Israel, Nir Barkat, called Andrés’ remarks “nonsense” in an interview with BBC News, a sister network of CBS News, and insisted that it had been a “grave mistake” for which Israel was “terribly sorry.”

Kirby said reporters on Wednesday: that there are no intentions for the United States to carry out a separate inquiry into the strike. According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the president will let the Israelis handle conducting a prompt and thorough inquiry. She stated that the Biden administration will “keep having those really tough conversations” with its colleagues in Israel.

Jean-Pierre said to reporters on Wednesday, “We understand how Chef Andrés is feeling.” “He just lost members of his team, I’m sure who felt like family to him as well.”

Disagreements between Mr. Biden and Netanyahu are coming to light in public, making their relationship more tense. After the United States declined to prevent a resolution in the U.N. Security Council calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7, Netanyahu recently canceled an Israeli delegation’s trip to Washington.

Mr. Biden stated last month that he thought Netanyahu was “hurting Israel more than helping Israel” by not taking greater action to stop the killings of civilians in Gaza. Netanyahu responded by calling Mr. Biden “wrong.”

It stated, “Public Iranian threats against Israel and the Israeli people were also discussed by the two leaders.” “In the face of those threats, President Biden made it clear that the United States strongly supports Israel.”

US claims Rafah was not discussed during the Biden-Netanyahu call:
The topic of Israel’s impending onslaught on Rafah was not discussed during Biden and Netanyahu’s phone conversation today, a US official told Al Jazeera.

The remarks were made in response to a report citing a source claiming that the US president had “refused” to discuss the upcoming Rafah operation with the Israeli prime minister.

Iran poses a threat, but Israel denies pulling out its diplomats
The Times of Israel says that an official from the Israeli Foreign Ministry has refuted allegations in regional media suggesting that the country is closing its embassies worldwide due to fears of Iranian reprisals following an Israeli raid on its consulate in Syria earlier this week.

According to The Times of Israel, it also spoke with an Israeli official who was posted “abroad,” who denied being aware of any evacuation preparations.

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