President Joe Biden
commented on the cease-fire agreement reached between Israel
and the Palestinian militant group Hamas
on Thursday, saying he is eager to see reconstruction efforts begin.
He also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
on the phone earlier.
“These hostilities have tragically resulted in the deaths of so many civilians, including children
, and I send my heartfelt condolences to all the families, Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost loved ones,” Biden said from the White House
The Israeli security Cabinet announced hours before Biden's speech that it had agreed to a cease-fire with Hamas, potentially halting the most violent clash between the two since 2014. Hamas, which controls the Palestinian territories, later confirmed it had agreed as well, and the fighting is set to end Friday morning local time.
During a phone call with Netanyahu earlier this week, Biden expressed support for the cease-fire, but critics slammed him for not doing so sooner, saying his administration should have recognized the situation was escalating but instead went ahead with a $735 million weapons sale to Israel.
have increasingly questioned the United States' support, claiming that Israel's attacks on Gaza have been disproportionate, amounting to war crimes, and their policies toward Palestinians
constitute human rights
violations. To date, at least 232 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed in the current fighting.
Biden spoke out against Hamas, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization, but said he is looking forward to working with Palestinian authorities to rebuild Gaza.
“I believe Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in safety and security, as well as equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy
,” he said.