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Tags: joe biden | benjamin netanyahu | israel | gaza

Biden on Netanyahu Call: 'I Did Not Ask for a Cease-Fire'

Saturday, 23 December 2023 06:54 PM EST

President Joe Biden said he did not ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a cease-fire in a long call the two leaders had Saturday.

"I had a long talk with Netanyahu today and it's a private conversation," Biden told reporters in Washington.

"I did not ask for a cease-fire," he said, in response to a shouted question.

Netanyahu's office said the prime minister "made clear that Israel would continue the war until achieving all its goals."

Biden pressed Netanyahu to protect civilian lives in Gaza, the White House said, as the country's forces mounted fresh military strikes in the territory.

The conversation came a day after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution demanding "safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale," though it stopped short of calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants.

"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 White House said in a statement.

The White House statement said the two leaders discussed the "objectives and phasing" of Israel's military campaign as well as the importance of securing the release of all remaining hostages.

Hamas terrorist streamed across the Gaza border Oct. 7 and attacked southern Israeli communities, killing about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse tally based on official figures.

Israeli authorities say 129 of the hostages seized during the brazen attack remain in Gaza.

Israel responded with a blistering assault on Gaza that has killed at least 20,057 people, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

A truce last month saw the release of 105 hostages, including 80 Israelis freed in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Friday's much-delayed UN resolution came after days of diplomatic wrangling, and sidestepped a U.S. veto only by avoiding a call for a ceasefire. Both the U.S. and Russia abstained on the measure.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a "humanitarian cease-fire" is the only way for aid "to be effectively delivered."

It ratchets pressure on Israel to allow greater humanitarian access and gives the United Nations a bigger role in coordinating the delivery of aid into Gaza.

The UN estimates the fighting has displaced 1.9 million of Gaza's 2.4 million population.

Israel's foreign minister said his country would "continue to screen all humanitarian aid to Gaza for security reasons."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© AFP 2024


Newsfront
President Joe Biden said he did not ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a cease-fire in a long call the two leaders had Saturday.
joe biden, benjamin netanyahu, israel, gaza
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2023-54-23
Saturday, 23 December 2023 06:54 PM
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