Israel-Palestine Conflict: Joe Biden expresses support for ceasefire after increased pressure and criticism

United States President Joe Biden has conveyed his support for a ceasefire after increased pressure from activists and his own Democratic Party over Israel’s continued bombardment on Gaza.

In a statement on Monday, the White House said Biden “expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end” in a phone call with Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The President reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks,” the statement read.

A day earlier, Netanyahu had said the Israeli military offensive on Gaza would continue “full force”; Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip since May 10 have killed more than 212 people, including 61 children, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli bombings, which began on May 10 after rockets were launched from Gaza towards Israel.

Hamas, the Palestinian faction that governs the blockaded Palestinian territory, said the rockets were fired in retaliation for the forced expulsions of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Biden “welcomed efforts to address inter-communal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem” and “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians”, the White House readout of the call with Netanyahu said.

Since the fighting erupted, Biden and his administration’s top officials have publicly supported Israel unequivocally, while insisting that they were working through diplomatic and military channels to try to de-escalate the violence.

On Sunday the United States for the third time blocked a a UN statement condemning Israel for its deadly military offensive in Gaza. READ.

US Army General Mark Milley warned on Monday of potential destabilisation beyond the Gaza Strip from continued fighting. “It’s in no one’s interest to continue fighting,” Milley told reporters shortly before landing in Brussels for talks with NATO allies.

“My assessment is that you risk broader destabilisation, and you risk a whole series of negative consequences if the fighting continues,” Milley said. “De-escalation is a smart course of action at this point for all parties concerned.”

Meanwhile, a group of 25 Democratic senators signed a public letter to Biden during the weekend calling for an immediate ceasefire.

As the Palestinian death toll continued to rise in Gaza on Monday, Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, who has traditionally been a staunch defender of Israel, also called for a ceasefire.