World news

Joe Biden urges ‘significant de-escalation' in Benjamin Netanyahu call

Israelis take shelter in the stairwell of their apartment building as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, In Ashdod, Israel, Wednesday, May 19, 2021 (AP Photo/Heidi Levine) 
Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press

US President Joe Biden has stepped up the pressure on Israel to end 10 days of violent fighting with Palestinians, making clear in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expected “significant de-escalation” by the day’s end.

Mr Biden asked Mr Netanyahu to move “towards the path to a ceasefire”, according to a White House description of their conversation.

There is pressure, too, on the US president to do more, with more than 200 people killed in the fighting.

Until Wednesday, Mr Biden had avoided pushing the American ally more directly and publicly for a ceasefire or conveying such a level of urgency for ending Israeli air strikes targeting Hamas in the thickly populated Gaza Strip.

The Biden administration had relied on what officials described as “quiet, intensive” diplomacy, including quashing a UN Security Council statement that would have addressed a ceasefire.

The administration’s handling opened a divide between Mr Biden and Democratic legislators, dozens of whom have called for a ceasefire.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

World news