Kerry: Truce Deal 'Must Lead to the Disarmament of Hamas'
US Secretary of State John Kerry Monday said that international efforts to reach agreement on a truce between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza must lead to the disarmament of Hamas.
Kerry told reporters he was continuing to work "toward establishing an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire."
But he added: "We also believe that any process to resolved the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups."
The US has put enormous pressure on Israel to agree to a cease-fire with Hamas, and President Barack Obama is allegedly pushing for an unconditional cease-fire that would see negotiations on Hamas's set of demands, as per the Egyptian cease-fire proposals.
However, Obama would reportedly not bar Turkey and Qatar - Hamas's biggest foreign supporters - from ceasefire talks, despite Israel's opposition.
Earlier, the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) also stepped up pressure on Netanyahu to accept a ceasefire.
The leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Britain and Italy "agreed to redouble their efforts to obtain a ceasefire. Pressure must
increase to get there," the French presidency said.
It issued its statement after President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Francois Hollande, Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi held phone calls to establish their joint position.
"The deterioration of the situation just plays into the hands of extremists," the presidency said in a statement.
News of a continued push for a cease-fire surfaces despite the continued rocket fire on Israeli cities, including one strike on the Haifa-Carmel area and another in Ashkelon which killed at least four Israeli civilians. Hamas boasted responsibility for the deaths Monday night.
A recent poll reveals that 85% of Israelis oppose the cease-fire unless Hamas is completely demilitarized beforehand.
Earlier Monday, Netanyahu pushed back at the international community's pressure, noting that foreign aid money had been used to build the very terror tunnels the IDF is fighting against.
"Israel will continue to destroy terror tunnels and this is only the first step of disarmament," Netanyahu said.
"Instead of the international community pledging money that will be used to build tunnels in making mass attacks against Israeli civilians, the international community must work for the demilitarization of Gaza."