Thursday Briefing: Biden Pressures Israel

Israeli tanks near the border with Gaza yesterday.Credit…Ammar Awad/Reuters

U.S. pushed Israel to reach a cease-fire deal

President Biden turned up the pressure on Israel to limit its Rafah operation and to reach a cease-fire deal with Hamas. He made it public that he’d held up a delivery of heavy bombs to Israel, and dispatched his C.I.A. chief to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S. announced it had withheld the delivery of some military aid to Israel last week over concerns they would be used in a possible full-scale assault on Rafah. William Burns, the head of the C.I.A., met privately with Netanyahu.

Israel downplayed the pause of the arms deliveries.

But experts said the pause showed that the bond is facing new strains, with more ruptures possibly to come amid declining American public support for the Israeli war effort. They also acknowledged that such disagreements were unlikely to change the course of the conflict. Biden has made it clear that he remains deeply committed to Israel, even as he has signaled that there are limits to U.S. aid and patience.

Details: The paused arms delivery included 2,000-pound bombs, which are among the most destructive in Israel’s arsenal. In the first six weeks of the war, the country routinely used weapons like these in areas of Gaza designated as safe for civilians, a Times investigation found.

Talks: Negotiators from Israel and Hamas were in Cairo yesterday. Read about the major gaps in their positions.

Analysis: Netanyahu wants to reassure domestic and international critics. My colleague Steven Erlanger explored his competing pressures.

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