US VP Harris says she, Biden are 'aligned' on Israel policy

U.S. President Biden and VP Harris meet with congressional leaders at the White House
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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said on Monday that she and President Joe Biden are in synch about Israel policy, after her blunt comments calling for a ceasefire and declaring a "humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza sparked questions about their positions.

During a trip to Alabama on Sunday Harris urged Hamas to agree to a six-week ceasefire and said Israel must do more to let aid flow freely into Gaza, where conditions, she said, were "inhumane."

Biden has been a staunch ally of Israel and has not wavered in his support since the Oct. 7 attack by Iran-backed Hamas that killed some 1,200 people sparked an offensive by Israel in Gaza that Palestinian authorities say has left more than 30,000 dead.

Biden has been pushing for a 6-week ceasefire to get aid into Gaza and hostages out of the enclave.

“The president and I have been aligned and consistent from the very beginning,” Harris said when asked by a Reuters reporter whether there was any distance between her and Biden on the issue.

"Israel has a right to defend itself. Far too many Palestinian civilians, innocent civilians, have been killed. We need to get more aid in. We need to get the hostages out. And that remains our position," she said.

Hamas and Egyptian mediators said on Monday they were pressing on with talks on securing a ceasefire in Gaza, despite Israel's decision not to send a delegation. The United States has said Israel has largely agreed to a deal but Hamas must agree to release its hostages.

"It is important that we all understand that ... we’re in a window of time right now where we can actually get a hostage deal done," Harris told reporters in Washington. "We all want this conflict to end as soon as possible, and how it does matters."

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Stephen Coates)