- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2021

President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he wants to see a “significant de-escalation” in violence Wednesday that paves the way to a cease-fire as Israel responds to attacks from Palestinian militants in Hamas with airstrikes on Gaza.

“He wants this to be de-escalated. He wants this to be a sustainable calm. This is what we have been calling for, for the past eight days, and this is what we’re continuing to do,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters traveling with Mr. Biden to Connecticut aboard Air Force One.

Mr. Biden outlined his expectations in his fourth call with Mr. Netanyahu since violence erupted in the region, though it was unclear from the White House description whether Mr. Netanyahu agreed to the demand.

Congressional Republicans are pressing Mr. Biden to show unwavering support for Israel, a long-standing ally, while some Democrats say the president needs to be more vocal about Palestinian civilians who are suffering and dying from Israeli strikes.

“The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States. The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” the White House said in a formal readout of the call.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office had no immediate comment on the call. On Twitter, the prime minister said he made it clear to “dozens” of ambassadors in a briefing about “the truth of Israel against Hamas terrorists.”

“If democracies around the world attack us instead of Hamas, they will act foolishly and irresponsibly to endanger them and reward terrorism,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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