Biden Says Future Support Depends On Israel Trying To Protect Civilians And Aid Workers

The president's call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is essentially the first time he threatened to condition aid to Israel during its six-month military offensive.

President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that future US support for Israel’s military offensive in Gaza will depend on whether the country takes concrete steps to prevent harm to civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza — the first time that the president has essentially threatened to condition aid to its strongest ally in the Middle East during the last six months of violence in the Palestinian enclave.

In a call with the prime minister, the first since March 18, Biden said that the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza is “unacceptable” and that Israel must announce and implement “measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers,” according to a readout from the White House.

“He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later Thursday declined to clarify to reporters on what specific steps the US wants to see Israel take, only bringing up previously stated measures such as allowing more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and moving toward a cease-fire deal that will allow for the release of hostages.

According to Kirby, the call was a direct result of Israel’s attack on a convoy with international charity World Central Kitchen. Israeli forces launched multiple airstrikes on Monday that killed seven aid workers who had just distributed food to starving Palestinians.

The attack drew swift backlash from the international community, including WCK founder and chef José André who accused Israel of deliberately killing his workers, one of whom was a US citizen.

After the attack, the president said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the workers’ deaths, and called out Israel for failing to “protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians”. The statement was a shift from the Biden’s usually vague but supportive comments on Israel’s military decisions.

Kirby said that the US still has an “ironclad commitment” to assist Israel in defending itself.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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