WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday hailed the impending cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, saying he sees a “genuine opportunity” toward the larger goal of building a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Biden credited the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire and said he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an “hour by hour” effort to stop the bloodletting.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said. “My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that.”
The president spoke soon after Israel and Hamas announced a cease-fire would go into effect at 2 a.m. Friday, ending an 11-day war that caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip and brought life in much of Israel to a halt. The fighting killed at least 227 in Gaza and 12 in Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel accepted the Egyptian proposal after a late-night meeting of his Security Cabinet. Hamas quickly followed suit and said it would honor the deal.
The cease-fire was announced one day after Biden told Netanyahu in a telephone call that he expected “significant de-escalation” of the fighting by day’s end, according to the White House. But the prime minister came right back with a public declaration that he was “determined to continue” the Gaza operation “until its objective is achieved.”
Aamer Madhani And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press