President Joe Biden addressed the agreement between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas on a cease-fire in Gaza, saying on Thursday he’s eager to see reconstruction efforts start there.
He also spoke on the phone earlier with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“These hostilities have resulted in the tragic deaths of so many civilians, including children, and I send my sincere condolences to all the families, Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost loved ones,” Biden said from the White House.
Hours before Biden spoke, the Israeli security Cabinet announced it had agreed to a cease-fire with Hamas, potentially pausing the most violent clash between the two since 2014. Hamas, which controls the Palestinian territories, later confirmed it had agreed to it as well. The fighting is scheduled to stop Friday morning local time.
Biden, who’s continued the United States’ heavy monetary support of Israeli forces, expressed support for the cease-fire earlier this week during a call with Netanyahu. But critics slammed Biden for not doing so earlier, saying his administration should have recognized the situation was escalating but instead went through with a $735 million weapons sale to Israel.
U.S. support has become increasingly scrutinized by American progressives, who say Israel’s attacks on Gaza have been disproportionate, amounting to war crimes, and their policies toward Palestinians constitute human rights abuses. To date, the current fighting has killed at least 232 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.
Biden spoke out against Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization, but said he looks forward to working with Palestinian authorities on rebuilding Gaza.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” he said.
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