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Biden ‘actively working’ on ceasefire deal in Gaza : Middle East crisis live

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Published Time: 13.02.2024 - 13:40:25 Modified Time: 13.02.2024 - 13:40:25

DYLAN MARTINEZ/REUTERS Chosen by us to get you up to speed at a glanceJoe Biden has said he is “actively working” on a deal for a six-week ceasefire in Gaza

: DYLAN MARTINEZ/REUTERS

Chosen by us to get you up to speed at a glance

Joe Biden has said he is “actively working” on a deal for a six-week ceasefire in Gaza.

The US president declared that “the key elements of the deal are on the table” but admitted  there are “gaps that remain”. He welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House Monday for talks on how to end the months-long war and plan for what comes afterward.

Mr Biden said that “every innocent life lost in Gaza is a tragedy” amid mounting tension between the US and Israel over their expected offensive in Rafah.

William J Burns, the CIA chief, is due to travel to Cairo for hostage talks along with senior officials from the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar, according to multiple reports.

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Israel must investigate the “heartbreaking” death of a six-year-old Gazan girl whose body was recovered Saturday along with a number of her relatives and two Red Crescent workers who went to find her, the US State Department has said.

Matthew Miller, a spokesman, said: “We have asked the Israeli authorities to investigate this incident on an urgent basis. We understand that they’re doing so. 

“We expect to see those results in a timely fashion and they should include accountability measures as appropriate.”

Her family’s car came under fire while trying to flee an Israeli advance in Gaza City. She was last heard from in a desperate phone call to the Red Crescent, telling them she was “so scared”.

“We are devastated about reports of the death of Hind Rajab. I will tell you that I have a little girl that’s about to turn six myself, and so it’s just a devastating account, a heartbreaking account for this child,” Miller added.

Read: Body of six-year-old Palestinian girl who pleaded to be rescued found in Gaza

China urged Israel to stop its military operation in the Gazan city of Rafah “as soon as possible”, warning of a “serious humanitarian disaster” there if fighting did not stop.

A foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement: “China follows closely the developments in the Rafah area, opposes and condemns actions that harm civilians and violate international law.”

Beijing urged Israel to “to stop its military operation as soon as possible, (and) make every effort to avoid innocent civilian casualties, in order to prevent a more serious humanitarian disaster in the Rafah area”.

There is currently no safe place in Gaza, a United Nations spokesperson has said.

When asked about an evacuation mission, Stephane Dujarric said the UN would “not be party to forced displacement of people”.

Volker Turk, the UN’s human rights chief, warned that “an extremely high number of civilians” would likely be killed or injured in a full Israeli incursion into Rafah, which could also spell the end of the “meagre” humanitarian aid entering Gaza.

Israel’s spy chief will travel to Cairo for talks with his Egyptian and US counterparts on a Gaza truce proposal, Israeli officials have said.

David Barnea, the head of Mossad, will meet William Burns, the CIA chief, Israeli officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

They will be joined in the Egyptian capital by Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister, who also serves as the country’s top diplomat and has brokered previous Gaza ceasefires.

Washington sources familiar with developments confirmed on Monday that William Burns, the CIA chief, is expected in Cairo for talks on a Qatari-brokered truce proposal, after Israel rejected the initial response last week from Gaza rulers Hamas.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has not yet shown its government plans to evacuate Rafah, a spokesman has said.

Lt Col Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, told CNN: “The government has instructed the IDF to devise a plan to achieve our goals, our war goals, in the area of Rafah.

“The plan that you’re asking for has still yet to be presented, of course, to the government.”

There are great humanitarian concerns about the potential assault on the southern Gazan city where 1.4 million Palestinians are understood to be sheltering

Lt Col Lerner insisted it was possible to differentiate between innocent civilians and terrorists, admitting that it was “not without challenge”.

“It can be done,” he said. “We have confidence in our ability to differentiate and distinguish.”

 

Joe Biden is growing increasingly irritated with Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he is understood to have called an “a--hole” several times in private.

Amid mounting frustration with the Israeli leader, the US president is believed to be edging closer to a public breach with Mr Netanyahu in a bid to distance himself from the unpopular prime minister.

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