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US changes tune on Gaza ‘cease-fire’ as Rafah fears grow

Under pressure internationally and from Democratic voters, the Biden administration has begun to call for a "temporary cease-fire" in Gaza.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield listens as Algerian Ambassador to the UN Amar Bendjama speaks.

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WASHINGTON — For months, Biden administration officials went to great lengths to avoid endorsing a “cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip. They backed “humanitarian pauses” and a “cessation of hostilities” between Israel and militant group Hamas but had refrained from using the word “cease-fire” in any context. 

That began to change last week. President Joe Biden said on Friday he pushed for a “temporary cease-fire” during his conversation the day prior with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Their phone call came a week after Biden, in his sharpest rebuke yet, said Israel’s military response had been “over the top” in Gaza. 

The president’s shift in messaging follows pressure from the Democratic Party's progressive wing for Biden to back a cease-fire in the Palestinian enclave, where health officials there say the Israeli military campaign has killed 29,300 people. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Saturday urged Michigan Democrats who disapprove of Biden’s Gaza handling to vote “uncommitted” in the battleground state’s Feb. 27 Democratic primary.  

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