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US calls for unilateral ceasefire, but promises support if Iran attacks Israel

In a major policy shift, the Biden administration wants a six-to-eight week ceasefire with hostage release and a space for humanitarian aid to be delivered to Gaza.
TJI Wrap
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Two men with a crack between them

Relations between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu are rupturing (Creative Commons/TJI)

Published: 10 April 2024

Last updated: 11 April 2024

US President Joe Biden has called on Israel to unilaterally agree to a six-to-eight week ceasefire, in an apparent retreat from his administration’s stance that conditioned a truce in Gaza on Hamas releasing some of the hostages it’s holding in the Strip.

“What I’m calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a ceasefire, allow for the next six, eight weeks, total access to all food and medicine going into the country,” Biden told Univision, a US Spanish-language TV network.

“I’ve spoken with everyone from the Saudis to the Jordanians to the Egyptians. They’re prepared to move in,” Biden says. “They’re prepared to move this food in. And I think there’s no excuse to not provide for the medical and the food needs of those people. It should be done now.”

Asked whether Netanyahu is more concerned about political survival than Israelis’ national interest, Biden responds, “I think what he’s doing is a mistake… I don’t agree with his approach,.”

The Univision interview was taped just days after an Israeli air strike killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers and Biden also spoke strongly against Israel's conduct.

“I think it’s outrageous that those four, three vehicles were hit by drones and taken out on a highway where it wasn’t like it was along the shore, it wasn’t like there was a convoy moving there,” Biden said.

But when it comes to the increasing threat of an attack from Iran, Biden said that the US commitment to defend Israel against Iran was “ironclad”.

US and Israeli officials fear that a strike is imminent and could come in the form of a direct missile launch from Iran, rather than an attack through a proxy like Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has vowed to respond in kind to such a direct strike, raising the prospect of a regional war, which US officials now believe is more likely than at any point since the beginning of the Gaza conflict on 7 October.

Biden’s pledge of support to Israel, intended as a deterrent, came a few hours after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, repeated a threat to strike back against Israel over an air strike on Iran's Damascus consulate last week, that killed 12 people, including Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and six other guard members.

Arms sales threatened

The Biden administration is also under pressure over arms sales to Israel. The US provides roughly $US 3.8bn ($A 5.73bn) annually in military help to Israel.

The top Democrat on the of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Gregory Meeks has indicated he is not prepared to greenlight an $18 billion sale of F-15 fighter jets to Israel until he receives assurances as to how the weapons will be used.

"I want to make sure I know the types of weapons and what the weapons will be utilized for. For example, I think it's enough for what has taken place in Gaza. I think Hamas needs to let the hostages go...and I think it's enough of the indiscriminate bombing."

Approximately one-quarter of House Democrats are now calling for halted military sales and conditioned future aid.

US rejects genocide claims 

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday rejected accusations that Israel is perpetrating genocide in Gaza, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken blasted the international community for failing to hold Hamas to account, even as both officials said Israel needed to ensure sustainable improvements to the humanitarian situation in the enclave.

“We don’t have any evidence of genocide being created,” Austin said in testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee regarding US President Joe Biden’s latest budget request.

The remark came a day after footage of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren claiming there was “ample evidence” to find Israel guilty of genocide in the International Court of Justice was published on social media.

Austin declined to term the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 a genocide, but did call them a “war crime.”

 He also said he had spoken with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, on Monday and repeated US insistence that Israel must move civilians out of the battlespace in Gaza and properly care for them.


In major policy shift, Biden urges Israel to unilaterally declare ceasefire in Gaza (Times of Israel)

Biden vows ‘ironclad’ US commitment to Israel amid fears of Iran attack (Guardian)

In Potential Game-changer, Top Democrat Won't Grant Biden Rubber Stamp on Pending F-15 Sales to Israel (Haaretz)

US says ‘no evidence’ of Gaza genocide, but wants Israel to deliver on aid long-term (Times of Israel)


  • Avatar of Betty Rosengart

    Betty Rosengart10 April at 12:29 am

    Israel has been ready for a ceasefire for a while now. It is simple, release the hostages.

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