(CNN)The growing number of civilian deaths in the intensifying battle between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is causing worry inside the White House as officials work the phones with partners in the region.
President Joe Biden said Monday afternoon he planned to speak shortly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the third conversation between the two men in six days.
Asked whether he would insist upon a ceasefire, Biden said he would be able to talk more about the issue after his phone call.
Biden has so far resisted calls from fellow Democrats and foreign allies to publicly increase pressure on Israel amid the worsening violence. But notable shifts in the administration’s language in news releases revealed the level of concern within the West Wing over the conflict is rising.
The White House is placing enormous stock in efforts by Egypt and Qatar to broker an end to the violence, according to officials. Yet so far Biden has not called for a ceasefire himself, raising questions about his strategy in the Middle East among Democrats whose approach to the issue has shifted in recent years.
Biden spoke on Saturday to Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. White House readouts of the calls said Biden raised the issue of civilian casualties.
Speaking Monday, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it would not be “constructive” for the White House to reveal every aspect of Biden’s conversations. Instead, she said the US was working through “quiet and intensive” diplomacy to bring the violence to an end.
“Our focus, our goal, every single action we take, every statement we make, is with the objective of reducing the violence and bring an end to the conflict on the ground,” she said.
“There are times in diplomacy where we’ll need to keep those conversations quieter, we won’t read out every component of it,” she went on. “But that is the objective, that is the prism through which every action and every comment is being made.”
So far, Biden has remained adamant that Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas. The last time he addressed the situation in public, Biden said he did not believe Israel was overreacting by pummeling Gaza with airstrikes.
Psaki would not say whether his assessment had changed since then.
Now, as Israel signals the violence will continue into a second week, Democrats in Washington are calling for Biden to say more. More than 25 Democratic senators, led by Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, released a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire agreement in Israel and the Palestinian territories to “prevent further loss of life and further escalation of violence.”
The statement signaled the growing concern in Congress over the escalation of violence in the Middle East. Other Democrats have also called for more robust action by the administration to bring about a truce.
“I think the administration needs to push ha
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