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President Biden speaks during a news conference with Moon Jae-in, South Korea's president, not pictured, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Biden at a press conference on Friday evening pushed back on Republican claims that the Democratic Party is anti-Israel.

Why it matters: A number of Democratic lawmakers became frustrated with Biden this week for his behind-the-scenes approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the administration's sale of weapons to Israel. Some lawmakers said they thought the White House should be more publicly forceful in its efforts to de-escalate the crisis.

Driving the news: Biden said at a joint press conference Friday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday there needed to be an immediate ceasefire.

  • "He never broke his word with me," Biden said of Netanyahu.

One day after the ceasefire in Gaza, Israeli police forcibly dispersed a protest at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, or Temple Mount, the site of last Monday's police raid that Hamas cited in launching its initial rocket attacks.

  • Biden said he again made it clear to Netanyahu it is important to bring an end to the intercommunal violence in Jerusalem. "This has to stop," Biden stressed.

What he's saying: The president added he is committed to a two-state solution, which he called the only viable fix to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • "There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel," Biden said. "Period. No shift. Not at all."
  • He added that, "Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state there will be no peace."

Of note: On Thursday the president said, "I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy."

Go deeper

May 20, 2021 - World

Biden on Gaza ceasefire: Israelis, Palestinians "equally deserve" safety and security

President Biden commended the newly approved ceasefire between Israel and Hamas during a speech at the White House Thursday, noting Israelis and Palestinians deserve "equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy."

Zoom out: Israel and Hamas approved a ceasefire deal on Thursday that is expected to take effect at 2am on Friday (local time), after 11 days of fighting.

Updated May 20, 2021 - World

Israel and Hamas approve ceasefire in Gaza

The aftermath. Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Tel Aviv — President Biden welcomed the imminent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after eleven days of fighting in a White House statement on Thursday.

The state of play: Israel's Security Cabinet voted earlier Thursday evening to approve the ceasefire, which is set to go into effect at 2am local time (7pm ET). Hamas also backed the ceasefire, but the sides have issued sharply contrasting messages about its terms.

The good cop/bad cop routine on Israel

President Biden speaks Thursday night about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The juxtaposition of Congress widely criticizing Israel while the president maintains support has created a good cop/bad cop role reversal that isn't going unnoticed in Israel.

Why it matters: An increasing number of Democratic lawmakers became frustrated with President Biden this week for his behind-the-scenes approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Axios found. That's a sea change from a tradition of presidential prominence, as well as unquestioned congressional support for Israel.