Biden tells Netanyahu that US support depends on treatment of Gaza civilians

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, speaking on the phone call between Biden and Netanyahu, then said that Israel must do more to increase the flow of humanitarian supplies to Gaza, a challenge that has expanded exponentially since the attack on Gaza. humanitarian workers have pushed some groups to reconsider their activities on the ground.

“If we lose that respect for human life, we risk becoming indistinguishable from those we face,” Blinken said during a stop at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “Here is the current reality in Gaza, despite the important steps Israel has taken to enable assistance to Gaza: the results on the ground are woefully insufficient and unacceptable.”

The Secretary of State made clear that the Biden administration is now ready to exact a price if Israel continues to resist its advice. “If we don't see the changes we need, there will be changes in policy,” he said.

The president has long opposed limiting the flow of weapons to influence Israel's approach to the war, with some aides arguing that many of the munitions sent are air defense missiles. After Hamas killed 1,200 people and took hundreds of hostages, Biden said his support for Israel was “solid and unwavering.” While increasingly criticizing what he sees as the excesses of the military operation, he has so far remained faithful to his promise.

But with growing unrest on the political left, particularly in electoral swing states like Michigan, even some of Biden's closest Democratic allies are warming to the idea that Washington should exercise greater arms control, including Sen. Chris Coons , a fellow Democrat. of Delaware and confidant of the president.

“I think we're at that point,” Coons told CNN Thursday morning, that if Netanyahu were to order the Israeli army to force its way into the southern Gaza city of Rafah and “drop thousands of pounds of bombs and send in a battalion to go after Hamas and not provide civilians or humanitarian aid, I would vote to condition aid to Israel.”

Netanyahu did not immediately release a description of his call with Biden, but in other comments Thursday he appeared unbowed. At a meeting in Jerusalem with visiting Republican lawmakers organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, the prime minister forcefully opposed Biden's long-standing insistence on a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict .

“There is a counter move, an attempt to force us to crush a Palestinian state, which will be another haven of terrorism, another launching ground for an attempt, as was the Hamas state in Gaza,” Netanyahu said . “This is opposed by the Israelis, overwhelmingly.”

In a separate video statement, he focused on the threat he sees coming from Iran. “For years, Iran has acted against us, both directly and through its proxies, and therefore Israel is acting against Iran and its proxies, both in defensive and offensive operations,” Netanyahu said, referring to an attack Israeli plane that killed seven people. Iranian military officers in Syria this week.

“We will know how to defend ourselves,” he added, “and we will operate according to the simple principle that those who attack us or intend to attack us, we will attack them.”

The White House statement noted that Biden stood with Israel against Iran during his Thursday call with Netanyahu, which in addition to Blinken included Vice President Kamala Harris and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser.

“The two leaders also discussed Iranian public threats against Israel and the Israeli people,” the statement said. “President Biden has made clear that the United States strongly supports Israel in the face of such threats.”

Unlike previous comments, however, the latest White House statement makes no mention of October 7 nor of the now ritual defense of Israel's right to respond to Hamas. Instead, he stressed that “an immediate ceasefire is essential” and said that Biden “urged the prime minister to empower his negotiators to strike a deal to bring the hostages home without delay.”

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