Biden Calls for Immediate Ceasefire in Call With Netanyahu

President Biden Welcomes Governors To The White House During The National Governors Association Winter Meeting
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
April 4, 2024

President Joe Biden on Thursday called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip during a phone call with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

"[Biden] underscored that an immediate ceasefire is essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians, and he urged the Prime Minister to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home," the White House said in a readout released after the phone conversation.  

Biden described "the strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation" as "unacceptable," the readout noted. Earlier this week, an Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen. Netanyahu and other Israeli officials apologized for the incident, saying Israeli forces misidentified vehicles in the aid convoy as hostile targets. 

The president warned the United States’ policy in the Israel-Hamas conflict would depend on Israel’s immediate actions to mitigate the ongoing humanitarian crisis, urging Netanyahu to "announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers."

The White House added the two leaders also discussed Iran’s growing aggression toward Israel, with Biden assuring Netanyahu the United States would support Israel against the Iranian regime. 

Netanyahu last month rebuffed Biden's calls for Israel to hold back in its war with Hamas. The Israeli prime minister on March 15 gave the green light to an Israel Defense Forces operation to invade Gaza’s southernmost city Rafah, ignoring Biden’s warning just days earlier that such an invasion would cross a "red line."  

In a video statement to reporters after meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 22, Netanyahu said that "[Israel has] no way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there," adding that "I hope we will do it with the support of the U.S., but if we have to—we will do it alone."