Biden shifts rhetoric towards ‘ceasefire’ as Israel prepares for ground offensive in Rafah

WASHINGTON — As Israel gears up for a ground offensive in Rafah, President Joe Biden’s language has evolved from seeking a “pause” to advocating a “temporary ceasefire” in the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

This subtle shift in rhetoric aligns Biden more closely with global sentiments and critics within his own Democratic Party who are calling for a permanent ceasefire in a conflict that has claimed nearly 30,000 Palestinian lives.

The U.S. has vetoed three draft U.N. Security Council resolutions concerning the Israel-Hamas war, with the most recent two vetoes obstructing language that demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. However, the U.S. has now proposed its own resolution, which includes the term “ceasefire”. This draft calls for a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas and opposes a significant Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, as per the text reviewed by Reuters.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, denied any deliberate change in language. “It reflects what we’ve been doing all along,” she stated to reporters on Tuesday. Until this proposal, the U.S. had shied away from using “ceasefire” in any U.N. action related to the conflict. The current U.S. draft mirrors language Biden used this month regarding the situation.

“I’m pushing very hard now for this hostage ceasefire, as I’ve been tirelessly working on this deal,” Biden said on Feb. 8, when he described Israel’s response in Gaza as “over the top” – his strongest critique to date. Eight days later, he reported extensive discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the topic of a ceasefire.