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US, EU Call on Israel to Reach Cease-Fire
French President Emanuel Macron (R) and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi attend a video conference with Jordan's King Abdullah (on screen) to work on a proposal for a cease-fire and Israeli-Palestinian discussions at the Élysée Palace in Paris, May 18, 2021. (Sarah Meyssonnier / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)

US, EU Call on Israel to Reach Cease-Fire

International pressure to end hostilities mounts

With Israel’s operation Guardian of the Walls concluding its 10th day, international pressure for a speedy end to the fighting intensified on Wednesday, as foreign governments urged Jerusalem to wrap up its airstrikes on Hamas.

US President Joe Biden, in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, “conveyed to [Netanyahu] that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” a White House statement said Wednesday.

And in a joint statement released by the French, Egyptian and Jordanian governments, Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi along with King Abdullah called on Israel and Hamas to “immediately agree on a cease-fire” and resume negotiations to “achieve a just and lasting peace.”

The three leaders also demanded “full and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance” into the Gaza strip and promised to work to secure relief for Palestinians.

Also on Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry passed a message to Israeli diplomats warning that any actions leading to a further increase in civilian casualties in Gaza would be considered “unacceptable.”

The 10th day of fighting between Israel and Hamas began with yet more barrages of rockets fired by the terror group at southern Israeli towns. As of Wednesday evening, no injuries were reported despite several direct hits.

Several missiles launched for the second day in a row on Israel’s north from neighboring Lebanon caused the Israeli military to respond with artillery fire.

Throughout Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, Israeli fighter jets again conducted widespread air raids against military targets belonging to Hamas, which controls the coastal enclave, with an additional 12 kilometers of underground offensive tunnels and facilities reportedly destroyed.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said at least 10 Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives were killed in the attacks.

We’re not standing with a stopwatch.  We want to achieve the operation’s objectives. Previous operations lasted a long time, so it is not possible to set a time frame

Responding to Washington’s firm stance on the need to end the latest round, Netanyahu said Wednesday evening that while he appreciated President Biden’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself, he is “determined to proceed with this military operation until it has achieved its target – reinsuring the peace and security to Israeli citizens.”

Hours earlier, Netanyahu addressed the mounting global pressure to reach a truce with Hamas during a briefing with ambassadors stationed in Israel on Wednesday.

“We’re not standing with a stopwatch,” the prime minister rejected the demands during the meeting. “We want to achieve the operation’s objectives. Previous operations lasted a long time, so it is not possible to set a time frame.”

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who also attended the ambassadors’ briefing, “thanked the US for its uncompromising support and solidarity,” and “made it clear … that Hamas initiated the current escalation, in an attempt to hijack the Palestinian agenda with the aim of strengthening its position within the PA leadership,” the ministry said in a statement sent to The Media Line.

On Monday, during a phone call between Netanyahu and Biden, the President for the first time “expressed his support for a cease-fire,” signaling a shift from previous conversations the two held during the operation’s first week.

The president has caught some flak from some in his own party in recent days, with several Democratic Congress members calling on Biden to withhold military aid from Jerusalem or to avoid vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel.

The party is a large party, a big tent with many different viewpoints, and we have to be open to listening to them. However, this administration has voiced its support for the State of Israel, just like all prior [administrations]

“I think President Biden is an experienced politician with long-standing relations with Israel and its leaders, and he prefers to conduct his communications and any disagreements that he may have with Israeli leadership privately,” Heather Stone, chair of Democrats Abroad-Israel, told The Media Line.

“The party is a large party, a big tent with many different viewpoints, and we have to be open to listening to them. However, this administration has voiced its support for the State of Israel, just like all prior [administrations].”

After repeated American vetoes on statements critical of Israel or calling for a cease-fire in the UNSC, the body’s General Assembly will convene on Thursday to discuss the ongoing fighting in Gaza.

On Tuesday, a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers ended with no resolution, after Hungary, a close ally of Jerusalem, prevented the required unanimous vote to officially call for a cease-fire.

Individual states, however, including Germany, have insisted a cease-fire must be reached immediately.

Israel “respects and appreciates the goodwill of President Biden and other world leaders calling for a cease-fire,” Danny Dannon, who served as Jerusalem’s ambassador to the UN from 2015 to 2020, told The Media Line.

“But as missiles hit Israel … the only consideration we now face is the safety and security of our citizens, and restoring IDF deterrence,” he added, echoing Netanyahu’s position.

Israeli military chiefs have in recent days insisted there still remain plenty of “high quality” targets belonging to Hamas yet be destroyed. Hamas’ rocket launches, while slightly dwindling in the past few days, have also not let up, as both sides have signaled their readiness to continue fighting.

Yet with global pressure to end the violence, exerted on both sides, mounting significantly over the past 24 hours, the latest deadly chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be nearing its end.

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