US President Biden reaches out to Palestinian and Israeli leaders amid conflict - GulfToday

US President Biden reaches out to Palestinian and Israeli leaders amid conflict


Joe Biden.

US President Joe Biden on Saturday held his first phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas since taking office, amid heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Biden has dispatched an envoy to try to quell the violence that has killed dozens in Gaza and at least 10 in Israel, but US, regional and international efforts have yet to show any signs of progress.

Biden also spoke to Netanyahu and reaffirmed 'strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other groups in Gaza.’

Biden "stressed the need for Hamas to ceasefiring rockets into Israel," and the two men "expressed their shared concern that innocent civilians, including children, have tragically lost their lives amidst the ongoing violence," a summary of the call released by the White House said.

Israel-attack-May15-Main1-750 A fireball and smoke billow up into the air during an Israeli airs trike on Gaza City. AFP

Biden also conveyed the "US commitment to strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership" and highlighted his administration's recent decision to restore aid to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza that had been cut under former President Donald Trump.

A summary of the call released by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Biden said he opposes the plunder of Palestinians from East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah, though the White House account of the conversation did not mention the case.

A long-running legal case over the evictions helped ignite tension in the holy city and spark fighting between Israel and Gaza militants.

Israel-attack-May15-main3-750 A Palestinian woman mourns over her son, who was killed in clashes with Israeli forces, near the occupied West Bank. AP

Israeli fighter jets on Saturday bombed and demolished Jala Tower, a high-rise building in Gaza City housing Al Jazeera TV and Associated Press (AP) offices, as well as residential apartments.

Earlier during the day, demonstrators took to streets across a number of major US cities, demanding an end to the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip. In the capital Washington, D.C., hundreds took part in pro-Palestinian protests on Saturday, marching from the Washington Monument to the US Capitol, reports Xinhua news agency.

Also on Saturday, thousands of people rallied in Los Angeles in support of Palestinians. Local media said a handful of pro-Israel counter-protesters also gathered, and police officers kept the groups separated.

A demonstration that started in a neighbourhood in the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which has a large Arabic-speaking community, continued through the streets for several hours on Saturday afternoon, said an ABC News report.

In San Francisco, a raucous crowd banged drums and yelled "Palestine will be free" as they marched across the Mission district to Dolores Park, the report said, adding that pro-Palestinian demonstrations were also held in Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and some other US cities.

The protests were planned for Nakba Day, which Palestinians observe every May 15 to commemorate the 1948 displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians amid Israel's war of independence, local media reported.



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