Biden tells Netanyahu Israel has right to defend itself, tells Abbas Hamas should cease firing rockets into Israel, fails to mention forced evictions, land grabbing

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to broker peace in the escalating Middle East conflict.

The American leader gave two different messages to both leaders in the Middle East.

Biden told Netanyahu that Israel has “the right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza” and “condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel”, according to the readout of their conversation released by the White House.

“The President updated the Prime Minister on high-level U.S. engagement with regional partners on this issue and discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts. The President noted that this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children. He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection,” the White House said, hours after Israel bombed a building housing the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets in Gaza City.

The White House added that President Biden shared “his grave concern about the intercommunal violence across Israel” and welcomed the statements by the Israeli Prime Minister and other leaders “opposing such hateful acts and encouraged continued steps to hold violent extremists accountable and to establish calm.”

“They discussed the current tensions in Jerusalem and expressed their shared desire for Jerusalem to be a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all faiths and backgrounds. The President voiced his concern about violent confrontations in the West Bank. He expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve and affirmed his support for a two-state solution. The leaders agreed to continue the close consultation between their teams and to remain in touch in the days ahead,” the White House added.

To President Mahmoud Abbas, the White House said President Biden called him to “convey the U.S. commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Palestinian partnership.”

“They discussed the current tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank and expressed their shared desire for Jerusalem to be a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all faiths and backgrounds,” said the readout of their conversation.

The White House added that “President Biden updated President Abbas on U.S. diplomatic engagement on the ongoing conflict and stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel.”

“They expressed their shared concern that innocent civilians, including children, have tragically lost their lives amidst the ongoing violence. The President expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve.

“In that regard, he highlighted the recent U.S. decision to resume assistance to the Palestinian people, including economic and humanitarian assistance to benefit Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza. The President also underscored his strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best path to reach a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the White House said.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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