The president also directly criticized Israel for its broader war, saying that “too many of the more than 27,000 Palestinians killed in this conflict were innocent civilians and children.”

“Many families have lost not just one, but many family members, and they cannot grieve for them,” Biden said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Biden’s appearance after a meeting with Jordan’s king represented his first extensive comments since Thursday night, when the president delivered a fiery rebuke to a special counsel report that repeatedly criticized his memoir.

The report concluded that Biden’s mishandling of classified documents did not warrant criminal charges. But special counsel Robert Hur described the president as a frequently forgetful man, descriptions that angered Biden and his advisers, who questioned them as gratuitous and incorrect, and revived scrutiny of the president’s age and mental acuity.

Democrats have subsequently urged the administration to allay voters’ fears about Biden’s age by showing him in public more frequently, including holding more news conferences and interviews that could show his leadership and command of the issues.

But there is little immediate evidence that the administration is changing its approach.

On Friday, the White House refused to hold a joint press conference with Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, avoiding the so-called 2×2 format, occasionally used when a foreign leader visits the country and which allows a couple of media outlets from each country ask questions.

On Monday, Biden also chose not to answer questions alongside Jordan’s king and ignored a series of shouted questions as they left the room.

Biden briefly alluded to the special counsel’s criticism of his memory during a speech Monday morning at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference. However, as he has dealt with the broader concerns about age that have dogged him for months, he tried to turn it into a punchline.

“I know I don’t look like it, but I’ve been here for a while,” Biden said. “Yes I remember.”

But later, as he and Abdullah delivered remarks, Biden stuck strictly to his prepared remarks on Israel’s war and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

“We are actively working for peace, security and dignity for both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people,” Biden said Monday. “We have also been clear from the beginning: we oppose any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.”

Biden added that the United States is working to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas that would stop the fighting for at least six weeks, in the hope that it will lead to a longer-term truce. But there are still elements that must be resolved, he said, urging Israeli leaders to continue working toward an agreement.

The president’s call comes as relations between the United States and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have become increasingly strained. Biden has become more critical of Netanyahu in public, saying last week that Israel’s war in Gaza has been “overblown.”

Biden and other senior officials have also repeatedly expressed opposition to a ground operation in Rafah in recent days, including a call with Netanyahu on Sunday in which Biden conveyed his reservations.

On Monday, Biden again insisted that Israel must eventually seek a two-state solution, adding that the Palestinian Authority must be prepared to negotiate a lasting peace.

“Once Hamas ends control of Gaza, they must be prepared to build a state that accepts peace and does not harbor terrorist groups,” he said.

By Sam