Joe Biden calls for ceasefire in Gaza as Israel approves plans for attack on Rafah

15 March 2024, 19:24 | Updated: 15 March 2024, 19:33

Joe Biden has called for a ceasefire in Gaza
Joe Biden has called for a ceasefire in Gaza. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

US president Joe Biden has called for a ceasefire in Gaza after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gave the green light for a military operation in Rafah.

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Mr Biden said "we both know there's a lot more that has to be done" in relation to the Middle East conflict, as he met Irish premier Leo Varadkar at the White House on Friday.

In brief comments ahead of the bilateral in the White House, the Taoiseach said he was "keen to talk" about the situation in Gaza.

Addressing Mr Biden in the Oval Office, he said: "You'll know my view that we need to have a ceasefire as soon as possible to get food and medicine in, get the hostages out.

"We need to talk about how we can make that happen and move towards a two-state solution, which I think is the only way we'll have lasting peace and security."

Mr Biden said "I agree" in response to Mr Varadkar's comments on a ceasefire, and again to the two-state solution.

Read more: Israel must open ports to allow urgent aid to travel to Gaza, Lord Cameron urges, as UN says 250,000 are starving

Read more: Gaza aid ship to leave Cyprus today after delays as US hopes to build new aid route for trapped Palestinians

It comes as Israel has approved plans for an attack on Rafah in southern Gaza, where displaced Palestinians have gathered to avoid fighting in the north.

The plans could see people being evacuated from Rafah itself, but the move has been largely criticised.

Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said: "A large-scale offensive in Rafah cannot be justified.

"Over a million people have sought refuge there and have nowhere to go.

"We need a humanitarian ceasefire now, so that the dying ends and the hostages are finally released."

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking from Vienna, said "we have to see a clear and implementable plan" to safeguard civilians from an Israeli incursion.

"We have not seen such a plan," he said.

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