Biden Says Gaza Cease-Fire ‘Tough’ to Reach Before Ramadan

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said the chances of securing a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war are “looking tough” before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Sunday.

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Biden made the comment on Friday to reporters traveling with him during a campaign visit to Pennsylvania. The president also said he was worried about the possibility of violence in East Jerusalem. The Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites where Muslims gather during the month of fasting and prayer, is located in Jerusalem.

The developments mark a setback for the president, who has pushed Israel and Hamas to agree on a six-week pause in fighting to allow for the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, as well as more food, clothing and medicine to reach Gazans besieged in the territory. Negotiations involving Egypt and Qatar have stretched on for weeks without a final resolution.

Read More: Hopes Fade of Gaza Cease-Fire Before Ramadan After Failed Talks

Progressives who are crucial to Biden’s chances of reelection in November have urged him to ratchet up pressure on Israel to scale back its military operation in response to the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union, and get more aid into Gaza.

Biden announced in Thursday’s State of the Union address that US military forces would create a temporary pier in the Mediterranean to facilitate aid deliveries by sea, in addition to authorizing airdrops.

“To the leadership of Israel, I say this: Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip,” Biden said in his speech.

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