Biden says effort to restore calm in Middle East is a "work in progress"

Biden says effort to restore calm in Middle East is a "work in progress"

Shafaq News / President Joe Biden said on Thursday he is pressing for a halt to violence between Israelis and Palestinians, but U.S. officials say they are resigned to the conflict continuing for some days to come, Reuters reported.

Since taking office in January, Biden's foreign policy moves have largely been centered on China, Russia and Iran. The sharp escalation in violence between Israel and the Palestinian territories and a mounting death toll have forced the Democrat to launch a diplomatic effort aimed at restoring calm in a volatile region.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, but U.S. officials said Abbas seems either unable or unwilling to rein in Hamas-led rocket attacks on Israeli targets.

As a consequence, the Biden administration has reached out to a number of regional Arab states to get them to exert influence on Hamas - labeled a terrorist organization by Washington - to stop the violence.

The U.S. strategy has been a basic one: Get the violence to stop, and restore what officials called a sustainable calm, but even that has been elusive.

Biden told reporters on Thursday that "there has not been a significant overreaction" by the Israelis to the attacks.

"The question is how they get to a point where there is a significant reduction in the attacks, particularly the rocket attacks that are indiscriminately fired into population centers," he said. "It's a work in progress right now."

U.S. officials are realistic that the violence is likely to persist if not intensify over the next couple of days, a U.S. official said.

Amid calls for the United States to do more and for Biden to step in more directly, it is unclear how the president could prevail on both sides in the protracted conflict he has tracked for decades as a U.S. senator and then vice president.

Biden shifted U.S. policy sharply in taking over from Republican Donald Trump, waiting weeks to talk to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time and re-emphasizing the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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