‘Without Delay’ – At Long Last, Biden Demands ‘Immediate Ceasefire’ in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden. (Photo: via Israeli PM TW page, file)

By Palestine Chronicle Editors

Following six months of total and unhindered US support to Israel, the Biden Administration has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. 

Several news agencies, including the New York Times and Axios, have reported on a heated 30-minute conversation between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

Several versions of the story were reported, some citing a direct call for ceasefire while others suggesting that Biden’s exceptionally strong language indicates that Washington is fed up with Netanyahu’s war. 

To confirm the news, the Palestine Chronicle viewed the Readout of President Joe Biden’s Call with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel.

The official White House document indeed confirms that a call for ceasefire has been made, and that, unlike previous calls for temporary truces, the latest call was unconditional and clearly worded.

President Biden has “underscored that an immediate ceasefire is essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians,” the White House document read. 

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The American president went on to ‘urge’ Netanyau to “empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home.”

Axios described this as “Biden’s ultimatum” to Netanyahu, saying that the president “made clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

For its part, NYT said that “during an evidently tense 30-minute call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Biden went further than ever before in pressing for change in the military operation that has inflamed many Americans and others around the world.”

Though, in the past, statements attributed to Biden have differed, sometimes sharply, from those made by other US officials, the likes of White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby, this time, there seems to be clear consistency in the American position. 

“What we want to see are some real changes on the Israeli side and, you know, if we don’t see changes from their side there will have to be changes from our side,” Kirby said, according to the New York Times.

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Why This Matters

For months, Washington remained the main hurdle in the face of an international push to bring the Israeli genocide in Gaza to an end.

By changing its position, Netanyahu, who is largely reliant on US weapons to conduct his war, would be left isolated, and unable to continue. 

What are the reasons behind this?

Media analysts are offering several explanations of why Biden has finally shifted his position on the issue. They include:One, growing discontent among Democrats who are unhappy about the unconditional support for Israel amid the growing death toll that has affected mostly the civilian population of the Strip. 

Two, Netanyahu’s failure to produce any results, thus failing to demonstrate that the military option would finally achieve his goal of destroying Hamas.

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Three, Netanyahu’s refusal to engage in any US-led political process to end the war and to serve as an American vision for the post-war Middle East. 

Four, Netanyahu’s rejection of incorporating the pro-US Palestinian Authority in any plan pertaining to Gaza’s future.

What do Palestine Chronicle editors think?

Though some of these estimates are either fully or partially true, there is more: 

One, the Biden Administration had been empowering the anti-Netanyahu branch in military and government, namely Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz and Netanyahu’s Likud rival, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Both were in Washington on recent trips, to the displeasure of Netanyahu.

Two, the growing political schism in Israel itself and the recent violence between Israeli protesters, who want an immediate prisoner exchange with Hamas, and the Israeli police. This jeopardizes the very stability of Israel, an important strategic goal to the US.

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Three, the growing discontent not among the rank and file of the Democratic party, but in the upper echelons, including Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, who has recently been in an open confrontation with Netanyahu. 

Four, a recent visit by top AIPAC – Israel’s powerful lobby in Washington D.C. –  members to Israel, resulting in the needed confirmation that Netanyahu is not willing to engage with the pro-Israel political constituencies that have sustained Israel’s interests for decades. 

Is the killing of the six internationals, who managed the US-backed World Central Kitchen, a factor?

Though this tragic event is widely cited as a major reason behind the shift in Washington’s attitude, it may have only served as an opportunity for Biden to assert a new American position that has predated the killing of the internationals by the Israeli army on Monday, April 1.

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If Biden had taken that position in defense of Palestinian civilians – well over 110,000 killed, missing or wounded – his position could have been seen as one done in defense of Hamas. 

It is plausible that Biden has taken advantage of the nationalities of these individuals, who were mostly westerners, to announce the shift in his country’s position regarding the war. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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