Biden urges Israel to ‘just call for’ 6-8 week ceasefire in Gaza war

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US President Joe Biden speaks at Union Station in Washington on April 9, 2024. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)
US President Joe Biden speaks at Union Station in Washington on April 9, 2024. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

US President Joe Biden has urged Israel “to just call for” a six-to-eight-week ceasefire.

“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 tells the 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 last Wednesday — two days after the IDF’s deadly strike on a World Central Kitchen convoy and a day before he held a call with Netanyahu during which he reportedly threatened to cease support of Israel during the war unless Jerusalem made major changes to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Hours after the call, the security cabinet approved a series of gestures aimed at significantly boosting aid to Gaza. The past several days have seen the largest number of aid trucks enter the Strip since the war’s outbreak, and the US has welcomed the steps in what might explain why Washington has not gone on to make the same call for a unilateral Israeli ceasefire that Biden made last week before these steps were taken by Israel.

Hours before the interview aired, Biden’s top aides went on record presenting a very different approach to how the US wants to see a ceasefire come about, insisting that it was Hamas, not Israel that is holding up a deal that would see an extended pause in fighting, the hostages released and aid surge into Gaza.

“There could be a ceasefire in place today that would extend for several weeks to be built upon longer if Hamas would be prepared to release some of those people, so let’s train the attention where it belongs… I believe Israel is ready and Hamas should step up to the table and be prepared to do so as well,” said US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Hamas “has an opportunity now to agree to the proposal on a ceasefire and hostages. The ball is in Hamas’s court. The world is watching to see what it does,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Also on Tuesday, US Vice President Kamala Harris met with the families of some of the American hostages at the White House and expressed the administration’s continued commitment to securing their release.

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