White House Hopes Gaza Ceasefire Deal Will End Israel-Hezbollah Fighting

President Joe Biden recently admitted that Israel and Hamas are not close to reaching an agreement

As the tit-for-tat conflict between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah continues to escalate, a top US official said the White House hopes a ceasefire in Gaza will lead to an end to the fighting in northern Israel.

Deputy Assistant to the President Amos Hochstein said on Tuesday in Lebanon that Washington was trying to prevent the war between the IDF and Hezbollah from expanding. Fighting on Israel’s northern border started after the October 7 Hamas attack. The fighting has escalated in recent weeks as Israel assassinated a Hezbollah commander, while the Lebanese militant group launched hundreds of rockets into Israel.

The fighting has killed over 400 people in Lebanon, including scores of civilians. Israel has also suffered 27 fatalities, including 11 civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced on both sides of the border.

Hochstein said the White House hopes that a ceasefire in Gaza will bring an end to the hostilities. Hezbollah has stated it will cease operations against Israel once the onslaught in the Strip is brought to an end.

It is unclear if Israel will halt strikes in southern Lebanon should the fight in Gaza wind down. Tel Aviv wants all Hezbollah forces to withdraw from southern Lebanon to an area north of the Litani River. Additionally, some analysts say that Israeli leaders may see the end of fighting in Gaza as an opportunity to conduct a larger assault on Lebanon.

Hochstein’s trip to the Middle East coincided with a CBS News report that the White House is increasingly concerned that Israel will drag the US into a wider war in the region by attacking southern Lebanon. The US official noted the administration’s alarm, saying an end to the conflict “is both achievable and it is urgent.”

However, a ceasefire in Gaza does not appear imminent. In late May, Biden announced the framework of an agreement he presented as an Israeli proposal, though it was quickly dismissed by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Last week, Biden said he did not think there would be a ceasefire in Gaza soon.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.