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Biden says US support for war in Gaza depends on Israel’s conduct

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Joe Biden has warned Benjamin Netanyahu that US support for Israel’s war in Gaza depended on its efforts to address the humanitarian suffering in the enclave, as he called for an “immediate ceasefire” in the conflict.

The comments from the president marked his strongest signal that Washington’s backing for its ally’s offensive against Hamas now depended on Israel lessening the war’s civilian toll — and his clearest call for an immediate halt in the fighting.

Biden’s message to the Israeli prime minister came in a telephone call on Thursday, just days after Israeli air strikes killed seven humanitarian workers delivering food aid in Gaza, where aid agencies have warned of imminent famine.

“He 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 a White House account of the call.

“He made clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps,” the statement continued.

Biden also “underscored that an immediate ceasefire is essential” to stabilise the humanitarian situation. He also urged Netanyahu to “empower” Israeli negotiators to conclude a deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas, according to the White House.

The call for an immediate ceasefire marked a shift from Biden’s previous stance that a cessation to fighting must come alongside a hostage deal.

Senior administration officials did not rule out that the US could make further military assistance for Israel conditional on its conduct of the war — a step Biden has been reluctant to take.

“I am not going to preview decisions that haven’t been made yet,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said when asked about the possible conditioning for further lethal aid.

“What we want to see are some real changes on the Israeli side,” Kirby added. “If we don’t see change from their side, there’s going to have be changes from our side.”

Kirby added: “We’re looking to see . . . a dramatic increase in humanitarian assistance getting in, additional crossings opened up, a reduction in the violence against civilians and certainly aid workers.”

Via

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