Joe Biden mistakenly called for a ceasefire in Gaza on Monday as he misspoke in a press conference.
The US president was asked whether he would support a “hostages-for-ceasefire” deal, under which Washington would urge Israel and Hamas to end hostilities temporarily to allow for the release of prisoners and delivery of aid.
Mr Biden replied: “We should get the…we should have a ceasefire…not a ceasefire, we should have those hostages released, and then we can talk.” His comments suggest he would only be willing to discuss a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas once more than 200 hostages have been released by the terror group from where they are imprisoned in Gaza.
The question of a ceasefire has been fiercely debated among Western allies, with leaders from France and the EU backing a “humanitarian ceasefire”. Elisabeth Borne, the French prime minister, and Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign diplomat, are supportive of a temporary end to hostilities in the hope of rescuing civilian hostages.
But Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said a ceasefire would be “difficult”, while United States officials said operational decisions about the conflict should be left to the Israeli Defence Forces.
Matthew Miller, a US State Department spokesman, said a temporary ceasefire would “give Hamas the ability to rest, to refit, and to get ready to continue launching terrorist attacks against Israel”.
“You can understand perfectly clearly why that’s an intolerable situation for Israel, as it would be an intolerable situation for any country that has suffered such a brutal terrorist attack and continues to see the terrorist threat right on its border,” he said on Monday.
Mr Borrell indicated that EU states were likely to announce their support for a ceasefire in the coming days to allow for aid to enter Gaza.
“I believe that the idea of a humanitarian pause to facilitate the arrival of humanitarian aid, which would allow displaced persons to find shelter, is something that the leaders will support,” he said.