President Biden gave brief remarks Thursday night after the Israeli government said it has agreed to a cease-fire in its conflict with Hamas. More than 200 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed in some of the worst fighting in the region. 

Up to this point, the president has said little publicly about the Israeli-Hamas conflict. But behind the scenes, the U.S. and others had been increasing pressure on Israel to stop its bombing of the Palestinians. Mr. Biden said the U.S. has been holding “intensive, high-level discussions hour by hour, literally.” 

“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” the president said. “My administration will continue our quiet and relentless diplomacy toward that end.” 

Earlier this week, Mr. Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”

More than 2 million Palestinians live in a 140-square mile of the Gaza Strip.