Biden calls Qatari Emir as Dermer visits Washington

US President Joe Biden phoned Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in Gaza and coordinate joint mediation efforts.

They spoke as Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer arrived in Washington to discuss the Gaza war and the fate of the dozens of hostages held in the enclave.

Qatar and Egypt are attempting to media a second deal to secure the release of 129 hostages in exchange for a pause to the war, which they hope will lead to a permanent ceasefire.

Netanyahu continued to insist on Tuesday that the IDF was determined to continue its military campaign in Gaza until it destroys Hamas. IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi said the war could go on for months.

In a video issued after viewing satellite intelligence in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said, “We have soldiers on the ground. Sometimes they are also underground, and we have eyes in the sky.”

EMIR OF QATAR Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Doha (credit: NASEEM ZEITOON/REUTERS)

“We say to the Hamas terrorists: we see you, and we will get to you. We are continuing the war, deepening the fighting in the southern Gaza Strip and elsewhere.”

US and Israel at odds over fighting, and Gaza on the day after

Despite Netanyahu’s words, the US is looking to Israel to shift its military campaign in Gaza from a high-intensity to a low-intensity one, particularly given the pressure on Biden from the Democratic Party over the high fatality estimates in Gaza. Hamas has asserted that some 21,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in war-related violence. Israel has claimed that over 8,000 of those fatalities are combatants.

Dermer was expected to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Blinken also held a call with Dermer earlier this month.

There has been an upsurge in the war this week, particularly in a central area just south of the wadi, a waterway in winter that bisects the Gaza Strip.

Israel launched fresh air strikes against central Gaza on Tuesday, where the United Nations said it was alarmed by an intensification of Israeli attacks that killed more than 100 Palestinians in one part of the enclave since Christmas Eve.

Dermer arrives in Washington as an Egyptian three-phased plan to release the hostages held in Gaza and end the war faltered, with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad appearing to reject it outright.

The plan called for the creation of a technocratic government to administer Gaza after the war and subsequent Palestinian elections. Netanyahu has insisted that Hamas must not be allowed to govern Gaza, that the enclave must be demilitarized, and that it must not pose a terror threat to Israel.

The US and Israel are also at odds over their visions for Gaza once the war is over, with Israel dismissing Biden administration plans for the Palestinian Authority to rule Gaza.

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas’s infiltration of southern Israel on October 7, the murder of 1,200 people, and the seizure of some 250 hostages, of whom some 110 have since been released.

Reuters contributed to this report

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