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A Palestinian boy sits on the remains of a building destroyed by an Israeli air strike. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty

After 10 days of standing behind Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, President Biden made clear that he is running out of patience. Biden told Netanyahu he expects "significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire," per the White House readout of their call.

Why it matters: 219 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, at least half of them civilians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel is under growing international pressure to end its operation — though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted earlier on Wednesday that Israel wouldn't "stand with a timer" and needed additional time to complete its objectives.

  • Biden was "firm" on the call and sent a clear message that he's "done kidding around and Israel needs to finish it," a source briefed on the call tells Axios. It was their fourth call since the beginning of the crisis.
  • But Netanyahu has elected not to convene the Security Cabinet on Wednesday, meaning a decision on a ceasefire is not imminent because that would require Cabinet approval, Israeli officials say.
  • Netanyahu said in a statement that he appreciated Biden's support for Israel's right to self-defense but was "determined to continue the operation in Gaza until it achieves the goal of restoring calm."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also spoke to his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz on Wednesday about the need for a ceasefire, Israeli officials say.

Behind the scenes: The shifting U.S. position has been clear in calls between top U.S. and Israeli officials.

  • When Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke on Tuesday to his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz, he focused much more on the need for de-escalation than on Israel's right to self-defense, according to the Israeli officials.
  • Most recently, Austin called Gantz on Wednesday to urge the need for a ceasefire.
  • Gantz said Israel would proceed responsibly and engage in diplomacy with "moderate forces in the region," according to the Israeli officials, but didn't commit to a ceasefire.

What's next: Privately, Israeli officials say ceasefire talks could gain momentum in the next 24 hours, but contend that such a pause would be fragile and could collapse quickly.

Go deeper: Israel targets Hamas commanders fighting hits day 10

Go deeper

Aug 25, 2021 - World

U.S. has options if Iran talks fail, officials say ahead of Israeli PM's visit

Biden in the Oval Office. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty

If diplomacy fails, the U.S. will consider using other means to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, senior Biden administration officials said in a briefing ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's visit to the White House.

Why it matters: Iran is the main agenda item for Bennett's visit, and he is expected to push for a "Plan B" now that nuclear talks have stalled. The U.S. officials didn't say what exactly the administration would consider but are clearly trying to reassure the Israelis that they are willing to pressure Iran.

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Trump's volatile return to the stock market

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals 

Donald Trump this week became both a meme stock and a social-media entrepreneur at the same time, by announcing that a new company called Trump Media & Technology Group was going to merge with an existing company listed on the stock market.

Why it matters: The medium-term promise of Trump's media company is that it will replace Twitter for anybody wanting to keep track of Trump's messages. The short-term promise is that it can be a hot new speculative vehicle for people wanting to get rich quick in the stock market.