US officials are pressing their Israeli counterparts and Tel Aviv’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expedite willingness to reach a ceasefire, source familiar with Washington’s recent diplomatic efforts said Tuesday.
Despite no such language being publicly released in statements from the White House, State Department or Pentagon, President Joe Biden struck an aggressive tone during a phone call with the Israeli premier on Monday, according to the New York Times.
The US has blocked three attempts by the UN Security Council to release a statement that calls for an end to the violence between Palestinian factions and Israeli forces, which spilled over into its second week.
Diplomats said the US ambassador to the UN reiterated previous stances from US officials that a UN statement would not help de-escalate tensions.
The latest draft statement, which was obtained by Al Arabiya English, did not make any mention of the Hamas militant group, and it did not condemn attacks on Israel, which has been a demand from Tel Aviv.
Biden and his administration have been using so-called quiet diplomacy and have held over 50 high-level phone calls with international officials and leaders, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Biden faces increased opposition and criticism from within his own Democratic Party by progressives who are considered far-left.
Biden also reportedly told Netanyahu that his ability to ignore international and domestic pressure for a more aggressive tone against Israel was limited.
Watch: Inside a #Gaza hospital, Mohammad al-Hadidi cradles his baby boy Omar -- his only surviving child after Israeli air strikes killed his wife and four other sons in one night.https://t.co/uFDXJhTyRL pic.twitter.com/pv0etqDCRo— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) May 18, 2021
Israel has been heavily criticized for targeting civilians during its intense airstrikes, including on the Gaza building of The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a strong statement after the airstrike and called for more intelligence that proved Israeli claims of Hamas operations inside the building.
On Tuesday, without elaborating or giving evidence, Blinken said Israel provided some intelligence.
Over 200 Palestinians and 12 people in Israel have been killed since the onslaught of Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes almost ten days ago.
Since taking office in January, the Biden administration made it clear that the Middle East was not a priority for US foreign policy. But arguably, the worst violence between Palestine and Israel since 2014 may force a change in approach.
“'The stick our heads in the sand’ approach by the Biden team was bound to fail. You may not be interested in the Middle East, but the Middle East is interested in you. And if you try to leave it, it will follow you home,” a former White House official told Al Arabiya English.
- with AFP
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