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Biden calls Netanyahu, says Israel has ‘right to defend’; tells Palestinian president to stop firing rockets

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US President Joe Biden on Saturday (local time) held telephonic conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirmed his strong support for “Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas”, reports said.

“The President reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel,” the White House said in a statement.

 

Biden noted in his conversation with Netanyahu that “this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children,” according to a readout of the call released by the White House.

“The President updated the Prime Minister on high-level US engagement with regional partners on this issue and discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts,: it added.

He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection.

The President shared his grave concern about the intercommunal violence across Israel.

Biden welcomed the statements by the Prime Minister and other leaders opposing such hateful acts and encouraged continued steps to hold violent extremists accountable and to establish calm.

Both the leaders discussed the current tensions in Jerusalem and expressed their shared desire for Jerusalem to be a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all faiths and backgrounds, according to a readout of the call released by the White House.

“The President voiced his concern about violent confrontations in the West Bank. He expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve and affirmed his support for a two-state solution. The leaders agreed to continue the close consultation between their teams and to remain in touch in the days ahead,”it added.

Biden also spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and discussed the violence in Gaza, in which he called for Hamas, the authority’s rival, to stop firing rockets into Israel.

It was the first phone call between the two leaders since Biden assumed office.

President Biden “stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel”, and the two men “expressed their shared concern that innocent civilians, including children, have tragically lost their lives amidst the ongoing violence,” the White House said.

(Agency inputs)