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New Political Pressures Push US, Europe to Stop Israel-Gaza Conflict

BRUSSELS — A diplomatic flurry from the White House and Europe added strain on Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza on Wednesday to halt their 10-day-old battle earlier than it was a battle entangling extra of the Middle East.

President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — their second telephone name in three days — telling the Israeli chief he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” administration officers mentioned. Although they portrayed the decision as in step with what Mr. Biden had been saying, his resolution to set a deadline was an escalation.

And in Europe, France and Germany, each robust allies of Israel that had initially held again from pressuring Mr. Netanyahu within the early days of the battle, intensified their push for a cease-fire.

French diplomats sought to advance their proposed United Nations Security Council decision that will name on the antagonists to cease combating and to enable unfettered humanitarian entry to Gaza. It remained unclear on Wednesday if the United States, which has blocked all Security Council makes an attempt to even difficulty an announcement condemning the violence, would go together with the French decision.

The German overseas minister, Heiko Mass, mentioned he hoped to fly to Israel on Thursday for talks with Israelis and Palestinians.

Taken collectively, the developments represented a extra decided Western effort to halt the battle between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, the impoverished coastal territory of two million Palestinians dominated by Hamas since 2007. It has been a continual flash level within the long-running Israeli-Palestinian battle.

Despite ideas by some officers {that a} cease-fire may come inside days, violence flared all through Wednesday, spilling past Gaza into the occupied West Bank and in northern Israel, the place the Israeli navy exchanged fireplace with militants throughout the border in Lebanon. So far, Israel’s Gaza bombardment has killed at the least 227 folks, together with 64 youngsters. In Israel, 12 folks have been killed by Hamas rockets.

Mr. Netanyahu didn’t touch upon the dialog with Mr. Biden or specify if Israel was de-escalating. But in a Twitter post afterward, he mentioned, “I especially appreciate the support of our friend @POTUS Joe Biden, for the State of Israel’s right to self-defense.”

None of Israel’s allies have publicly condemned the nation’s actions in Gaza. And for Mr. Biden, that method to Israel, America’s strongest pal within the Middle East, has develop into a difficult balancing act, with objections to Israel’s habits rising amongst Democratic constituents who’re pushing him to take a extra assertive stand with Mr. Netanyahu.

The president’s unwavering help for Israel additionally has damage the United States on the United Nations — at a time when Mr. Biden has been in search of to enhance America’s engagement with the 193-member group typically denigrated by his predecessor, Donald J. Trump.

The killing of so many civilians inside Gaza has roiled Democratic members of Congress. On Tuesday, Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, confronted Mr. Biden throughout his journey to a Ford plant, and pleaded with him to handle the rising violence within the area and defend Palestinian lives.

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, who witnessed that interplay, mentioned in an interview on Wednesday that Mr. Netanyahu’s reluctance to negotiate a cease-fire had made it more durable for Democrats throughout the political spectrum to defend Israel’s actions.

Some noticed the second telephone name between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu as messaging to placate home constituents.

Democrats have been pushing Mr. Biden “to take a tougher line and this was his opportunity to demonstrate that he is doing so,” mentioned Jonathan Schanzer, senior vp for analysis on the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington group that helps Mr. Netanyahu’s insurance policies. He additionally mentioned Mr. Netanyahu “does not want to give the impression that he’s been told to end this conflict before it’s the right time to do so.”

For European nations, the intensified push for a cease-fire additionally relies partly on political calculations.

They are anxious that an unexpected accident or resolution within the Gaza battle may convey a couple of floor battle, as in 2014, or the intervention of Hezbollah from Lebanon, as in 2006.

But they’re additionally acutely aware of home tensions in their very own nations which have difficult the European Union’s historic help for Israel. The migration disaster of 2015 introduced greater than 1,000,000 Muslim refugees and migrants to Europe, some with robust anti-Israel views.

In each France and Germany, the 2 most influential nations within the European Union, pro-Palestinian demonstrations have typically was anti-Israeli protests, together with assaults on synagogues. Governments concern such protests and inner violence will worsen the longer the battle lasts.

France is on alert for acts of Islamist terrorism, typically from French-born Muslims outraged by occasions within the Middle East. Germany, which welcomed 1,000,000 largely Muslim migrants in 2015, is struggling to include their anger about Israel.

At the identical time, the election of Mr. Trump in 2016 additionally inspired a right-wing European populism that’s anti-immigration and sometimes anti-Islamic, with a transparent political identification with “Judeo-Christian values” and powerful help for Israel. That is obvious in France, with the far-right social gathering of Marine Le Pen, in addition to in Germany, with the far-right Alternative for Germany social gathering.

With Hungary and Austria most outstanding amongst Europe’s fierce Israel supporters — a gaggle that features key officers in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia — the European Union is extra divided on the difficulty than earlier than.

“Trump boosted not just right-wing politics in Europe but drove a new alignment of ethnonationalist governments that tend to support Israel,” mentioned Hugh Lovatt, a coverage fellow on the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Up till now at the least, there additionally had been a gradual de-emphasis of the Palestinian difficulty by governments, mentioned Kristina Kausch, a senior fellow on the German Marshall Fund.

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She attributed that de-emphasis partly to Israel’s shelved plans to annex the occupied West Bank, which Palestinians need as a part of their very own ambitions for an impartial state, and to the 2020 Abraham Accords, Israel’s normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, all massive defenders of Palestinian rights. Ms. Kausch mentioned there had been a way that “the Palestinian cause can be put on the back burner, that Arab countries and people don’t care anymore.”

But this new outbreak, Ms. Kausch mentioned, had proven “that the Palestinian cause is alive and kicking.” And not ignorable, at the least for some time.

Still, European nations perceive that Israel actually solely pays consideration to Washington, and “so long as Israelis believe America has their back they’re not concerned with what the Europeans are doing,” said Julien Barnes-Dacey, director of the Middle East and North Africa program for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

At the beginning of this conflict, he said, the United States and Europe had been “largely sympathetic to the Israeli narrative, willing to give them some space to accomplish their military ambitions.”

In Europe at least, one reason was a political shift “toward Israel, a rightward, more anti-Islamic slant,” Mr. Barnes-Dacey said.

But as public opinion turns against Israel, he said, “European governments have to react more proactively, and there is a sharper sense that enough is enough, and that this cannot go on.”

That has been part of the motivation driving France, which has tried to mediate and simultaneously push the Biden administration to pressure Israel into halting the campaign in Gaza and demand an immediate cease-fire before the conflict escalates — as happened in 2014, when a war that included Israeli ground troops lasted seven weeks.

President Emmanuel Macron of France has been particularly active this week, meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan and issuing a joint statement on Wednesday.

The three “called on the parties to immediately agree on a cease-fire” and to work with other nations “to reach such a cease-fire, including through the U.N. Security Council,” followed by “effective negotiations” to achieve lasting peace.

France, in a way, wants to create a path for the United States to help achieve that, suggested a senior French official who has seen France’s draft Security Council resolution. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the draft hasn’t been made public, described it as short and concise.

It condemns Hamas for firing rockets on Israeli civilians, the official said, and echoes language in a similar two-page resolution passed by the Security Council during another fierce Gaza war in January 2009, and on which the United States abstained.

The draft resolution seeks a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access to Gaza, the condemnation of the rocket barrages and any incitement to violence, the official said.

In Germany, traditional support for Israel and patience with its military campaign appears to be waning.

After speaking with Mr. Netanyahu on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel “sharply condemned the continued rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and assured the prime minister of the German government’s solidarity,” said her spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

But given the many civilian lives lost “on both sides,” Mr. Seibert said, “the chancellor expressed her hope that the fighting will end as soon as possible.”

Mr. Maas, the German foreign minister, said on Tuesday that “ending the violence in the Middle East is the first priority,” followed by political negotiations. But he also blamed Hamas for the escalation.

He appeared to be responding to domestic criticism that the government has been too lenient in the face of pro-Palestinian and sometimes anti-Semitic protests.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented that Germany ought to “concentrate on internal affairs and reflect that the ‘welcome culture’ extended to refugees was astoundingly naïve when it came to anti-Semitism.”

The question for Germany now, the paper said, “is how do we teach those for whom a hatred of Israel is in their DNA that Israel’s security is part of their adopted homeland’s raison d’être?”

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels, and Jim Tankersley and Katie Rogers from Washington. Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Washington.