Washington issues stern warning to Israel of waning US support if no changes are made

US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by assessment of Israel’s immediate action on steps to curb civilian deaths

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US President Joe Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Washington’s policy on Gaza would be determined by steps Israel takes to protect civilians and aid workers.

Meanwhile, the top US diplomat said the United States would alter its policy on Israel if certain changes were not made. “Right now, there is no higher priority in Gaza than protecting civilians, surging humanitarian assistance, and ensuring the security of those who provide it. Israel must meet this moment,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at a news conference in Brussels. “If we don’t see the changes that we need to see, there will be changes in our policy,”

Biden’s warning came during a 30-minute phone call between the two, days after the Israel repeatedly struck a convoy of World Central Kitchen humanitarian aid workers. At least seven of the group’s workers were killed in what Chef Jose Andres said was the deliberate targeting of aid workers.

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Biden, the State Department and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin all slammed the Israeli military for the deadly strike, which Israel said was a mistake.

According to a readout of Thursday’s call, Biden emphasized that the strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation were unacceptable.

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

Biden also said that an immediate ceasefire was essential to stabilizing and improving the humanitarian situation and protecting innocent civilians. The US president urged Netanyahu to empower his negotiating team to conclude a deal “without delay” to bring hostages home that have been held by Hamas.

Separately, the White House said the two men discussed public Iranian threats against Israel and the Israeli people, which comes days after Israel bombed an Iranian diplomatic building in Damascus. Several high-ranking IRGC officials were among those reportedly killed. Iran has vowed to seek revenge. The US and most Western capitals condemned the Israeli attack, which Israel has not yet publicly claimed, because it violated international law.

However, “President Biden made clear that the United States strongly supports Israel in the face of those threats,” the White House said.

With agencies

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