Israel shouldn’t go ahead with a military operation in the densely populated Gaza border town of Rafah without a “credible” plan to protect civilians, President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, the White House said.
Today, US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu engaged in a significant phone conversation, lasting approximately 45 minutes, to deliberate on the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza, including efforts to secure the release of hostages held in the territory.
This call, reported by Channel 12, marked the first dialogue between the two since President Biden characterized Israel’s response in Gaza as “over the top”. The discussion centered on three critical issues: the proposed military action in Rafah, the final bastion of Hamas strength in Gaza; enhancing the provision of humanitarian aid to the civilian population; and addressing a deadlock in negotiations for a hostage exchange that might lead to a temporary cessation of hostilities.
The White House provided details of the call, noting Biden’s reiteration of the joint objective to defeat Hamas and safeguard the enduring security of Israel and its citizens. The conversation also touched on the ongoing efforts to free all hostages held by Hamas.
President Biden underscored the importance of building on the current negotiations to expedite the release of hostages and urged for immediate and concrete measures to boost humanitarian support for Palestinian civilians.
Furthermore, Biden stressed that any military operation in Rafah must be accompanied by a comprehensive plan to protect the over one million people seeking refuge in the city.
Both leaders agreed to maintain open lines of communication moving forward.
In related developments, CIA Director William Burns is slated to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday for discussions with intermediaries about a possible ceasefire. Israel has been hesitant to engage in talks due to Hamas’s “unrealistic” conditions for a permanent ceasefire, which include troop withdrawal from Gaza, the territory’s reconstruction, and the release of approximately 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are key figures in terrorist activities, in exchange for the remaining hostages.
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