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President Biden during a news conference at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden told reporters Wednesday it's his "expectation and hope" that there will soon be an end to fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has killed scores of Palestinians and several Israelis.

What they're saying: Biden, after speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that he hoped the conflict would be "closing down sooner than later," despite Israel's government announcing plans to scale up its military offensive.

  • Biden added that "Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory."
  • In a call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken "expressed his condolences for the lives lost" in the violence and condemned the Hamas rocket attacks, according to a statement from State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
  • Along with calling for an end to the violence, Blinken "expressed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity," per Price.

Of note: Comments by Biden and members of his administration have angered progressives in his Democratic Party, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who called it "wrong."

  • She tweeted that "blanket statements like these" with "little context or acknowledgement of what precipitated this cycle" of violence "dehumanize Palestinians" and imply the U.S. will "look the other way at human rights violations," pointing to the "expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al Aqsa" Mosque.

What to watch: Per Axios' Barak Ravid, the Israeli security cabinet approved Wednesday military plans for broadening the operation against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Why it matters: Israeli officials said there is no deadline for ending the operation but it will focus for now on air strikes with no ground forces.

For the record: Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting that Israel doesn’t want a cease fire at the moment, per Ravid.

  • Both Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi added that the international community understands the Israel's actions and doesn’t put pressure on ending the operation for now.

Go deeper: Casualties pile up with no signs of ceasefire from Israel, Hamas

Go deeper

Aug 18, 2021 - World

Scoop: CIA director raised China concerns with Israeli prime minister

The U.S. has raised concerns about Chinese investment in the Port of Haifa project. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

While visiting Israel last week, CIA director Bill Burns told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett the U.S. was concerned about Chinese investments in Israel, particularly in the tech sector, and involvement in major infrastructure projects, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: That's the highest level at which the Biden administration has raised an issue that previously became a rare point of contention between the Trump and Netanyahu governments.

Aug 18, 2021 - World

Dispute with Poland on Holocaust shows Israel's shift on EU relations

Netanyahu (R) in 2019 with Polish President Andrzej Duda (C) and then-Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images

The diplomatic crisis over a Polish law limiting the ability to introduce claims to property confiscated during World War II is a manifestation of the shift in Israeli policy toward Europe under the new government.

Why it matters: The bill will mostly impact Holocaust survivors and their descendants, and it's seen by the Israeli government and the Biden administration as another step by Poland's government to rewrite the country's history around the Holocaust.

DeSantis takes legal action against Biden admin over immigration

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took legal action on Tuesday to try and stop the Biden administration's immigration plans.

Why it matters: DeSantis, who is running for re-election next year and is possibly eyeing a 2024 presidential bid, is picking a high-profile fight with Biden while re-upping his hardline stance on immigration.

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