Calls on the rise for Gaza-Israel ceasefire and increased US efforts

UN Security Council diplomats and Muslim foreign ministers called emergency meetings over the weekend to demand an end to civilian bloodshed as Israeli warplanes carried out the attacks. deadliest in nearly a week of Hamas rocket barrages and Israeli airstrikes.

President Joe Biden has given no sign of escalating public pressure on Israel to agree to an immediate ceasefire despite calls from some Democrats for the Biden administration to get more involved.

Its ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told an emergency high-level meeting of the Security Council that the United States “is working tirelessly through diplomatic channels” to stop the fighting.

But as battles between Israel and militant Hamas leaders in Gaza reached their worst levels since 2014 and international outcry intensified, the Biden administration – determined to divert attention from US Middle Eastern foreign policy and Afghanistan – has so far refused to criticize Israel’s part. in combat or send a high-level envoy to the region. Appeals from other countries have shown no signs of progress.

Thomas-Greenfield warned that a return to armed conflict would only put a negotiated two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict even more out of reach. However, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has so far blocked the days of efforts by China, Norway and Tunisia to get the Security Council to issue a statement, including a call for the cessation of hostilities.

In Israel, Hady Amr, a deputy assistant dispatched by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to try to defuse the crisis, met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who thanked the United States for its support.

Blinken himself has gone on an independent tour of the Nordic countries, with no announced plans to stop in the Middle East in response to the crisis. He made calls from the plane to Egypt and other countries working to negotiate a ceasefire, telling Egypt that all parties “should defuse tensions and end violence” .

Representative Adam Schiff, Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, urged Biden on Sunday to step up pressure from both sides to end the current fighting and restart talks to resolve Israel’s conflicts and hot spots with the Palestinians. .

“I think the administration should put more emphasis on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to end the violence, establish a ceasefire, end these hostilities and resume a process to try to resolve this long-standing conflict, “Schiff, a Democrat from California, told CBS” Face the Nation. ”

And Senator Todd Young of Indiana, the senior Republican on the foreign relations subcommittee for the region, joined Senator Chris Murphy, the chairman of the Connecticut subcommittee, in calling on both sides to cease fire. “Due to the Hamas rocket attacks and Israel’s response, both sides must recognize that too many lives have been lost and must not further escalate the conflict,” both sides said.

Biden focused on killing civilians from Hamas rockets during a call with Netanyahu on Saturday, and a reading of the White House appeal did not mention the United States urging Israel to join. a ceasefire that the countries of the region were pushing for. Thomas-Greenfield said US diplomats engage with Israel, Egypt and Qatar, alongside the UN

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City razed three buildings and killed at least 42 people on Sunday, medics said, bearing the toll since Hamas and Israel opened their air and artillery battles to at least 188 killed in Gaza and eight in Israel. Some 55 children in Gaza and a 5-year-old boy in Israel were among the dead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis in a televised speech on Sunday that Israel “wants to take a heavy toll” on Hamas. It “will take time,” Netanyahu said, signaling that the war would rage for now.

Representatives of Muslim nations gathered on Sunday to call on Israel to end attacks killing Palestinian civilians in the overcrowded Gaza Strip. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan called on “the international community to take urgent measures to immediately stop military operations.”

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting also saw Turkey and others criticize a US-backed push under which the UAE, Bahrain and other Islamic nations signed agreements. bilateral agreements with Israel to normalize their relations, overcoming the ruins of collapsed international efforts to negotiate long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The slaughter of Palestinian children today follows the so-called normalization,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. t

During the virtual meeting of the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN is actively engaging all parties for an immediate ceasefire.

Returning to the scenes of rocket fire by Palestinian militants and Israeli airstrikes in the fourth such war between Israel and Hamas, “only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair, and pushes further there is hope for coexistence and peace on the horizon, ”said Guterres.

Eight foreign ministers spoke at the Security Council session, reflecting the gravity of the conflict, and almost all called for an end to the fighting.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had firmly thrown American support behind Israel, embracing Netanyahu as an ally in Trump’s focus on confronting Iran. Trump has given little time to the efforts of the former U.S. administrations to promote peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, instead encouraging and rewarding Arab nations that have signed two-country normalization agreements with Israel.

Biden, on the contrary, calls the conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia a distraction from US foreign policy priorities, including competition with China.

He has sought to calm some conflicts and extract the United States from others, including ending US military support for a Saudi-led war in Yemen, planning to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, and attempting to return to a nuclear deal with Iran that Israel opposes.


Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City and Lederer from New York. Associated Press editors Jon Gambrell in Dubai and Lisa Mascaro in Washington and PA diplomatic writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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