Biden Pressures Israel to Reach a Cease-Fire in Gaza, Straining Ties

The Biden administration dispatched the head of the C.I.A. to meet on Wednesday with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, part of an effort to limit Israel’s military operation in the Gazan city of Rafah and push for a cease-fire deal with Hamas.

The visit came only hours after the Biden administration announced that it was withholding some military aid from Israel, in an unusually public rift between the two allies.

Taken together, experts said, the moves were indicative of President Biden’s increasing frustration with the way Israel has conducted the war in Gaza — a conflict unpopular with many Democratic voters in an election year.

Still, the steps were unlikely to change the overall course of the conflict, they said.

President Biden speaking yesterday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance ceremony on Capitol Hill.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“It’s pent-up frustration on Biden’s part, which eventually broke,” said Chuck Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel. “The administration has been walking a tightrope between its very strong support for Israel and domestic pressure.”

As the war in Gaza has dragged into its seventh month, the death toll has climbed past 34,000, with many of those killed women and children, according to Gazan health officials, who do not distinguish between civilians and combatants. In the process, President Biden has slowly moved from a position of full-throated support for Israel’s right to defend itself after October’s Hamas-led terror attack to a campaign of consistent pressure intended to limit civilian casualties and increase humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian enclave.

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