‘Did not ask for ceasefire in Gaza’: Joe Biden after telephonic call with Netanyahu

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WASHINGTON DC: United States President Joe Biden held a telephonic conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday and emphasized protecting the civilian population amid the Israel-Hamas war, Al Jazeera reported.

However, Biden said that he didn’t ask Netanyahu for a ‘ceasefire’ in Gaza.

United States President Joe Biden says he did not ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in a telephone call between the two leaders.

“I had a long talk with Netanyahu today [Saturday] and it was a private conversation,” Biden told reporters on Saturday.

“I did not ask for a ceasefire,” he said, in response to a shouted question, according to Al Jazeera.

In a statement later, the White House said Biden and Netanyahu discussed Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, including its “objectives and phasing”.

According to the White House, Biden ’emphasised’ the critical need to protect the civilian population and discussed the importance of securing the release of all remaining hostages

“The President emphasized the critical need to protect the civilian population including those supporting the humanitarian aid operation, and the importance of allowing civilians to move safely away from areas of ongoing fighting. The leaders discussed the importance of securing the release of all remaining hostages. They agreed to remain in regular consultation both directly and through their respective national security teams,” the White House statement read.

Notably, this call came a day after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution calling for the scaling up of aid for Gaza but fell short of calling for a ceasefire or a pause in weeks-long fighting.

The resolution, which demanded “immediate, safe and unhindered” deliveries of life-saving aid to Gaza “at scale”, was passed after UNSC members wrangled for days over its wording and toned down some provisions at Washington’s insistence, Al Jazeera reported.

The US and Russia abstained from the vote. However, aid groups fear that the impact of the vote on the ground will be close to nil.

“This resolution has been watered down to the point that its impact on the lives of civilians in Gaza will be nearly meaningless,” Avril Benoit, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement.

“The way Israel is prosecuting this war, with US support, is causing massive death and suffering among Palestinian civilians and is inconsistent with international norms and laws,” he added.

The US also opposed the demand to create a UN monitoring mechanism for aid, assuring Israel would continue to have a role in inspecting deliveries.
Netanyahu on Saturday “expressed his appreciation” for the stance taken by the US at the UN, his office said. He also “made it clear that Israel will continue the war until all its goals are completed”, according to Al Jazeera.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 20,000 people have been killed since Israel launched its counter-offensive after the October 7 attacks by Hamas. The war has also displaced 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million population, according to UN estimates.

The UN has described the situation in Gaza as “beyond catastrophic”, with residents struggling to find food, fuel and water while living in crowded shelters or tents. (ANI)

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