Biden presses Netanyahu on plans for hostage launch, defending civilians in Rafah | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Sunday for the primary time in additional than three weeks, amid rising U.S. issues over Israel’s plans to launch a significant army operation in Rafah, the place about 1.4 million civilians are sheltering from ongoing preventing all through a lot of Gaza.

Much of the 45-minute dialog targeted on a proposal for an prolonged humanitarian pause within the Israel-Hamas warfare that will permit the discharge of hostages nonetheless held by the militant group, in response to a senior administration official.

Protection of civilians in Gaza “is a constant discussion between us and the Israelis,” whilst Biden shares Israel’s purpose of defeating Hamas, stated the official, who briefed reporters on the situation of anonymity below guidelines set by the White House.

How civilians could be spared from an Israeli offensive within the southernmost metropolis in Gaza “is a huge question,” the official stated. Most of these in Rafah have moved there to keep away from preventing elsewhere within the enclave. They dwell in makeshift shelters and are nearly completely supported by the trickle of humanitarian support that’s allowed to transit through the Egyptian border.

“The president and the prime minister had a pretty detailed back and forth on that. I think our position on it is very clear,” the official stated. The United States wouldn’t assist such an operation until Israel has a plan for civilian safety and sustenance “that was actually planned, prepared and implementable.”

In his strongest public assertion so far, Biden advised reporters Thursday that Israel’s army marketing campaign in Gaza, which native well being officers stated has induced practically 28,000 deaths, has been “over the top.” Sunday’s dialog was the primary between the 2 leaders since Jan. 19.

Hours earlier than his cellphone name with Biden, Netanyahu advised ABC’s “This Week” that Israel was “doing everything we can to minimize civilian casualties. … But one thing we’re not going to do is we’re not going to let Hamas emerge victorious.”

Asked how and the place Israel proposed to take care of and transfer greater than 1,000,000 individuals to security from Rafah, Netanyahu pointed to “the areas that we’ve cleared, north of Rafah — plenty of areas there. But we are working out a detailed plan to do so.”

“Those who are saying that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying, lose the war. Keep Hamas there,” Netanyahu stated. Israel has stated that senior Hamas leaders have moved their operations to southern Gaza to flee Israeli assaults.

The cellphone name between the leaders got here prematurely of CIA Director William J. Burns’s journey to Cairo on Tuesday to proceed negotiations with Egypt and Qatar on implementing a framework proposal for a pause within the preventing to allow the discharge of hostages Hamas continues to be holding inside Gaza. The proposal, despatched two weeks in the past to either side within the battle, requires a six-week cease-fire that will permit civilian hostages to be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and a major enhance in humanitarian support.

The United States hopes is that the preliminary pause would construct momentum for extensions permitting for the discharge of all hostages, together with Israeli army personnel in addition to the our bodies of greater than two dozen of about 1,200 individuals who have been killed by the Hamas fighters who invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7, sparking the present warfare.

“The framework is pretty much in place,” the senior administration official stated. “There are certainly gaps that need to be closed. Some of them are significant. But there has been real progress over the last few weeks and we’re now seeking to do all we possibly can to capitalize on it.”

Hamas’s response to the proposal, transmitted to negotiators final week, referred to as for 1000’s of Palestinian prisoners to be launched, together with some with prolonged sentences for important crimes. It additionally insisted that Israel withdraw all its troops from Gaza earlier than discussions on a second-phase launch may start. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Tel Aviv on the time, referred to as a few of Hamas’s calls for “non-starters,” however stated that the response had offered “space” to work with.

Despite Netanyahu’s publicly unfavorable response to the proposal, “the framework is not rejected,” the senior official stated. “There are gaps that have to close and some of the differences are significant. … But compared to where we were a month ago, to now, there really has been significant progress.”

Sketching the paradoxical relationship between a possible Israeli floor offensive in Rafah and the prospects for preventing pause, the official stated, “You will not get a hostage deal unless Hamas is under significant pressure. … It is something the Israelis tell us all the time. It’s something that we agree with.”