Report: U.S. Encouraging Israel to Wind Down Gaza Offensive

WASHINGTON (AP) -
Rockets fired by Hamas terrorists in Gaza into Israel, seen over Kiryat Gat on Tuesday. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

President Joe Biden and administration officials have encouraged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials to wind down the bombardment of Gaza, a person with knowledge of the discussions said, as the Israeli and Palestinian death tolls mounted and pressure grew on Biden to move more forcefully to stop the fighting.

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday challenged the Biden administration to show any results from what it is calling its quiet diplomacy to stop the new Israeli-Hamas battles. Ambassador Riyad Mansour pointed to the U.S. repeatedly blocking a U.N. Security Council action on the conflict, and urged the Biden administration to do more.

“If the Biden administration can exert all of their pressure to bring an end to the aggression against our people, nobody is going to stand in their way,” Mansour said.

The White House has so far resisted the calls for ramping up public pressure on Netanyahu. It has made the calculation that the Israelis will not respond to international resolutions or public demands by the U.S. and that its greatest leverage is behind-the-scenes pressure, according to the person familiar with the administration’s discussions.

Administration officials are defending Biden’s decision to avoid ratcheting up public pressure on Israel for its role in the fighting. The U.S. this week killed a proposed U.N. Security Council statement that would have expressed concern for civilian deaths and raised the issue of a ceasefire.

“The President has been doing this long enough… to know sometimes diplomacy has to happen behind the scenes,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday.