President Biden expressed support for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on Monday during a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
In a readout of Mr. Biden’s call, White House officials said the president “expressed his support for a cease-fire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end.”
The statement fell short of an immediate demand for an end to Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza, which has been met with rocket fire by Hamas from Gaza into Israel. The White House also said Mr. Biden “reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
The Biden administration had previously avoided the use of the term “cease-fire,” with top officials like Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken talking instead about the need for a “sustainable calm” and others talking about the need for “restraint.”
While a cease-fire would be welcomed by the White House, Mr. Netanyahu has in recent days made clear that he intended to continue bombing until Israel has destroyed Hamas’s stockpile of rockets, launchers, and the tunnels from which Hamas fighters are operating.
“We’re trying to degrade Hamas’s terrorist abilities and to degrade their will to do this again,” Mr. Netanyahu said on Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “So it will take some time. I hope it won’t take long, but it’s not immediate.”
So far, Israel has rejected efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States to broker a cease-fire. And Hamas has continued its rocket fire into Israel.
In his conversations with Mideast leaders, Mr. Biden has instead tried to move the United States to a more neutral role as a peacemaker, after four years of former President Donald J. Trump favoring Israel.
On Saturday, the White House pointed to Mr. Biden’s recent “decision to resume assistance to the Palestinian people, including economic and humanitarian assistance to benefit Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza” and renewed his call for “a negotiated two-state solution as the best path to reach a just and lasting resolution.”
Twenty-seven Democratic senators and two independents who caucus with Democrats — a majority of Mr. Biden’s party in the Senate — signed a letter led by Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia on Sunday calling for “an immediate cease-fire.”
On Monday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters that the administration would not reveal all the details of Mr. Biden’s communications with leaders in the conflict. “Our approach is through quiet, intensive diplomacy,” she said. “That is how we feel we can be most effective.”