U.S. Willing to 'Leverage Contacts' to Mediate Ceasefire
The United States on Friday said that it was ready to leverage its relationships in the Middle East to try to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, AFP reported.
The offer came a day after President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to offer to facilitate an end to Hamas rocket fire and Israeli retaliatory airstrikes.
"There are a number of relationships the United States has that we are willing to leverage in the region to try to bring about an end to the rocket fire that's originating in Gaza and, as we saw this morning, in Lebanon," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
"We are interested in taking the kinds of steps that we did about a year-and-a-half ago in November of 2012 to facilitate a ceasefire and to try to get this situation back on the path of de-escalation," he added, according to AFP.
On that occasion, the United States worked with Egypt to broker a deal to end eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
It is unclear, however, whether such an approach would work again.
Then Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and had contacts with Hamas, has been deposed.
The new government, while branding Israel’s operation in Gaza as "oppressive policies of mass punishment" on Friday, has cracked down on Hamas, which it accuses of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt.
Washington's own influence may also have eroded, given the failure of a U.S.-brokered peace effort between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Earnest reiterated that Israel had a right to defend itself from rocket attacks, and said all sides should try to safeguard civilians.
"It is evident that civilians have been killed, including children. That's tragic, and we offer our condolences to the families," Earnest said.
On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki reiterated that Washington supports Israel’s right for self-defense and pointed out that Hamas was responsible for the death of civilians.
“Civilians have been killed, and certainly that’s of concern to us, and that’s one of the reasons that we have been certainly calling for all sides to de-escalate tensions on the ground,” she said, when asked by a reporter if she thought that “the utility of an F-16 to bomb a home and kill five civilians was appropriately done.”
Psaki continued, “It’s tragic and our condolences go out to the families, but I would remind you who is at fault here, and that is Hamas and the indiscriminate attacks that they have launched against Israel.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)