Press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House has “no plans” to alter security assistance to Israel, as progressives came down hard against a $735 million arms sale to the Jewish state and the billions allotted in foreign aid each year.
She said the White House will also work on “rebuilding, playing a constructive role in rebuilding Gaza, providing assistance and funding through the UN efforts to do exactly that and ensuring it is not Hamas, but is that the Palestinian people who benefit from that assistance.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced a resolution Thursday to force a vote on whether to block the weapons sale to Israel, and other Squad members, and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., introduced similar legislation in the House. “We must also take a hard look at nearly $4 billion a year in military aid to Israel,” Sanders wrote in a tweet.
Psaki also said that the U.S. made no concessions in the cease-fire agreed to by Israel and Gaza and did not agree to replenish the Iron Dome, Israel’s defense system, as a part of the deal but rather did so because the system saved “hundreds of lives.”
Psaki said that Biden himself was “especially deeply engaged in the 24 hours leading up to the cease-fire, as were high-level senior officials.” She said the Biden team had relied on a “disciplined, intensive and quiet campaign of diplomacy” to “bring an end to the conflict more quickly.”
“They were back-and-forth on the phone between many different parties, the Israelis, the Egyptians, who were in touch with Hamas and others about the importance of not violating, even pre-violating, the cease-fire in the hours leading up to it, as we see, did not happen,” Psaki continued.
She said that the White House believes Biden’s “deep engagement” had an impact on a cease-fire deal being reached in 11 days, one-fifth the time it took before the last major flare-up between Israel and Gaza ended in 2014.
U.S. leaders had pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise restraint in the conflict, even as they reaffirmed support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
Other world leaders as well as the U.N. were also urging de-escalation, and Egypt played a significant role in brokering the truce, according to reports.
Netanyahu’s office told Haaretz that defense leaders had accepted a “mutual” cease-fire without preconditions.
Hamas confirmed the cease-fire in a statement to Fox News.
“We were informed by our brothers in Egypt that an agreement had been reached for a mutual and simultaneous ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, starting at 2 a.m. on Friday, May 21, 2021,” the statement read. “And that the Palestinian resistance will abide by this agreement as long as the occupation is committed.”
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.