US President Joe Biden has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and encouraged him to “make every effort” to bring about a ceasefire in the fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants.
In a statement from the White House on Tuesday (AEST) on the call, it did not relay any response by Mr Netanyahu to his comments.
Mr Biden “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” it read.
The call comes as the Israeli-Palestine conflict enters its second week, with the death toll climbing past 200 deaths, with hospitals and medical centres reaching breaking point after a decade of conflict.
“The president expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end,” the White House said.
The White House said the two leaders also “discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza”.
Presidential intervention suggesting a “ceasefire” comes as Mr Netanyahu told his security cabinet in a televised address that Israel’s campaign in Gaza was continuing at “full force”, and that deterrence had to be achieved to prevent future conflict with Hamas.
“We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time,” he said.
At least 212 Palestinians have been killed, including 61 children and 36 women, according to Gaza health officials. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children.
“The president reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
Washington, a strong ally of Israel, has been isolated at the United Nations over its objection to a public statement by the Security Council on the ongoing violence because it worries it could harm behind-the-scenes diplomacy.
But on Monday (AEST), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken injected more urgency into calls for calm, taking to Twitter, “All parties need to de-escalate tensions – the violence must end immediately”, after he spoke with Egypt’s foreign minister about ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Mr Biden has gone one step above so-called “quiet diplomacy”, and spoken directly to a ceasefire.
‘Nothing is on the table’: Israel
An Israeli official says there are no negotiations to try to find a ceasefire.
Efforts by the US, Egypt and the United Nations to bring a halt to Israeli air strikes and rocket fire by Palestinian militants in Gaza have so far failed to quell the fighting.
Asked if any ceasefire was in the works, a senior Israeli official told Reuters: “There is no such thing right now. There is no negotiation. There is no proposal. There is nothing on the table.”
The official said that Egypt was likely the most reliable mediator between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
“They seem most connected,” the official said.
Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has mediated Israel-Hamas ceasefires in the past, along with Qatar and the United Nations.
The UN General Assembly will meet to discuss the violence on Thursday.
On Sunday in New York, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that hostilities in Israel and Gaza were “utterly appalling” and called for an immediate end to fighting.
He said the UN was “actively engaging all sides toward an immediate ceasefire” and urged them “to allow mediation efforts to intensify and succeed.”
But the senior Israeli official held out the possibility of a more prolonged conflict.
“We have no idea how much time we need because the rocket fire is unceasing. We can’t stop when the attacks are coming in like this. Israel is ready to keep fighting. The target bank is unending. This could go on for months,” the official said.