Biden and Irish Leader Use St. Patrick’s Day Visit to Address Gaza

President Biden on Sunday used what is normally a festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House to acknowledge the growing international concern, including among the Irish, over the humanitarian situation of Palestinians amid Israel’s military action in Gaza.

“The taoiseach and I agree about the urgent need to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza and get the cease-fire deal,” Mr. Biden said alongside Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, or taoiseach, an outspoken critic of Israel’s war against Hamas in response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. As hundreds of Irish American leaders and government staff members applauded, Mr. Biden said that a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians was “the only path to lasting peace and security.”

The celebration in the White House, with plenty of green dye, shamrocks and Guinness, is typically a chance for Mr. Biden to break from speeches about foreign policy and threats to American democracy to celebrate his Irish American heritage. But during his trip to the United States, Mr. Varadkar made clear that he would raise his concerns over the war in the Middle East with the American president.

The prime minister in a way was speaking to a domestic audience back in Ireland, which, given its own history of resistance to British rule, is one of the more supportive European nations to Palestinians. Ireland was the first European Union nation to call for a Palestinian state and the last to permit the opening of a residential Israeli embassy.

“Mr. President, as you know, the Irish people are deeply troubled about the catastrophe that’s unfolding before our eyes in Gaza, and when I travel the world, leaders often ask me why the Irish people have such empathy for the Palestinian people,” Mr. Varadkar said. “The answer is simple: We see our history in their eyes.”

While Mr. Varadkar said that he supported the administration’s efforts to secure a deal for a temporary cease-fire in exchange for the release of hostages, he also directly called out Israel’s bombing tactics. While Mr. Biden has struck a sharper tone recently with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the White House has said there are no plans to leverage military aid to Israel.

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