The U.N. Security Council and Muslim nations convened emergency meetings Sunday to demand a stop to civilian bloodshed as Israeli warplanes carried out the deadliest single attacks in nearly a week of unrelenting Hamas rocket barrages and Israeli airstrikes.
President Joe Biden gave no signs of pressuring Israel to agree to an immediate cease-fire despite new calls from some Democrats for the Biden administration to get more involved. His ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told an emergency high-level meeting of the Security Council that the United States was “working tirelessly through diplomatic channels” to stop the fighting.
But as fighting in Israel and Gaza surged to its worst levels since 2014 and the international outcry grew, the Biden administration — determined to wrench U.S. foreign policy focus away from the Middle East and Afghanistan — showed no immediate sign of deepening its involvement. Diplomatic appeals by other countries for Hamas and Israel to stop their fire showed no sign of progress.
Greenfield warned that the return to armed conflict would only put a negotiated two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict even further out of reach. And in Israel, Hady Amr, a deputy assistant dispatched by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to try to de-escalate the crisis, met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who thanked the U.S. for its support.
Blinken himself headed out Sunday on an unrelated tour of Nordic countries. He made calls from the plane to Egypt and other nations working to broker a cease-fire, telling Egypt that all parties “should de-escalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, on Sunday joined Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, in calling on Biden to step up pressure on both sides to end current fighting and revive talks to resolve Israel’s conflicts and flashpoints with the Palestinians.
“I think the administration needs to push harder on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to stop the violence, bring about a cease-fire, end these hostilities, and get back to a process of trying to resolve this long-standing conflict,” Schiff, a California Democrat, told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Biden administration officials have urged calm but said nothing publicly about prodding Israel immediately to go along with a push by Egypt and others for a cease-fire. Thomas-Greenfield said U.S. diplomats were engaging with Israel, Egypt and Qatar, along with the U.N.
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 42 people Sunday, medics said, bringing the toll since Hamas and Israel opened their air and artillery battles to at least 188 killed in Gaza and eight in Israel. Some 55 children in Gaza and a 5-year-old boy in Israel were among the dead.