A day after urging Israel to reduce hostilities in order to favor a ceasefire, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, was able on Thursday to mark the success of his “intensive and silent” diplomacy, as he defined it. The president appeared before the press in the middle of the afternoon to applaud the ceasefire between the Government of Israel and Hamas, which governs de facto the Gaza Strip. Palestinians and Israelis “deserve to live in safety and security and enjoy freedom, prosperity and democracy alike,” Biden said. The US has shown its commitment to collaborate “together with the international community and the UN in the reconstruction of Gaza” after the Israeli bombings, he added, while ensuring that his country will also help Israel to replenish the Iron Dome missile defense system, put to the test by the incessant firing of rockets from Gaza during the ten days of escalating warfare, and reiterated its support for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister.
The announcement was preceded by intense diplomatic activity by the White House. In the morning, Biden spoke by phone with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdelfatá al Sisi, given Cairo’s leading role in forging the agreement, and to whom the veteran Democrat referred in his appearance before journalists, especially thanking his mediation. “The two leaders have analyzed the efforts to reach a ceasefire to end the present hostilities in Israel and Gaza,” the White House explained in a statement. As head of diplomacy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also contacted his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, to reiterate Washington’s expectations of seeing “a reduction in hostilities in favor of a ceasefire.”
When reporting on the call from Biden and Al Sisi, the White House spokeswoman already hinted at noon that Washington was waiting for an imminent announcement of a ceasefire, but “obviously, we cannot anticipate agreements that are still being negotiated.” Psaki insisted on his defense of the aforementioned “intensive and silent diplomacy”, alluding to those who, especially from the Democratic ranks, have been denouncing the lack of involvement of the president to end the conflict.
In parallel, Vice President Kamala Harris reported by phone to the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, about the US diplomatic initiative in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza, and both leaders pledged to continue working to reduce tension. An important detail of the telephone communication between Harris and the Hashemite monarch was the reiteration, by Harris, of the commitment of the United States in favor of the two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the relevance of maintaining the the state on the Esplanade of the Mosques (for the Jews, the Temple Mount) of Jerusalem.
The ceasefire announcement came practically at the same time as Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, representative of the party’s most progressive faction, presented a resolution to the Senate to block an arms sale to Israel worth 735 million dollars (600 million euros), since this is “fueling the conflict.” The sale was announced on May 5, and the legislative period for objections ended precisely this Thursday. Sanders’ initiative was unlikely to garner the necessary 51 votes, but it demonstrates the defiance of Biden from the most left wing of the Democratic Party. The day before, a similar draft resolution had been presented by a group of Democrats led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House of Representatives.
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