Biden hopes Israel violence ending ‘sooner than later’
Published : Thursday, 13 May, 2021 at 2:29 PM Count : 627
US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Israel has a right to defend itself but after speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he hopes violent clashes with Palestinians will end quickly.
“I had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not too long ago,” Biden told reporters. “My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”
Biden said US diplomacy was in high gear with national security and defense staff “in constant contact with their counterparts in the Middle East — not just with the Israelis, but also with everyone from the Egyptians and the Saudis to the Emiratis.”
Biden spoke as calls grew internationally for a de-escalation of violence after intense hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians that have left dozens dead and hundreds injured.
The Israeli army has launched hundreds of air strikes on the Gaza Strip since Monday, while Palestinian militants have launched more than 1,200 rockets, according to Israel’s army, in some of the worst violence in seven years.
Coinciding with the aerial bombardments is surging violence between Arabs and Jews inside Israel.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had spoken by telephone with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, to urge an end to the rocket attacks.
The rockets are being fired by Hamas, but the United States does not speak with the group, considering it a terrorist organization.
The conversation between the top US diplomat and Abbas was the first high-level call between the United States and the Palestinians since Biden was sworn into office in January.
Abbas’s Palestinian Authority broke off contact with the previous US administration of Donald Trump in 2017, when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“I spoke with President Abbas about the ongoing situation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza,” Blinken posted on Twitter. “I expressed condolences for the loss of life. I emphasized the need to end rocket attacks and deescalate tensions.”
A readout of the call from the Palestinian presidency said Abbas had “stressed the importance of stopping the Israeli attacks on our Palestinian people everywhere, and putting an end to settler attacks and the aggressive Israeli measures against our people.”