Flurry of US phone calls fail to move Netanyahu on Gaza ceasefire
A flurry of telephone diplomacy from top US officials to Israeli and regional leaders has failed to move Tel Aviv towards accepting a ceasefire amid its ongoing offensive on the Gaza Strip.
US officials have made some 60 calls with Israeli and regional leaders since hostilities began last week, according to the White House. Those include three calls on Wednesday from US President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to their Israeli counterparts.
During his call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden “conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”
The White House readout of the bilateral conversation marks a significant shift in Biden’s approach to the violence, and is the most explicit public push for a ceasefire from the US president to date.
Austin also “urged de-escalation of the conflict” during his conversation with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz, and Sullivan said the Biden administration is “engaged in intensive diplomacy and our efforts will continue.”
Netanyahu, however, has rebuffed Biden’s and his top official’s efforts, saying that while he appreciates US support for Israel the offensive will move forward in order “to return the calm and security” to Israel.
At least 227 Palestinians have been killed, including 64 children and 38 women, in Israeli attacks on Gaza since May 10, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Twelve people have also been killed in Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza.