Obama: The People of Gaza Need Hope
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that the people of Gaza need greater hope for the future but also stressed the importance of Israel’s security.
"The U.S. goal right now would be to make sure that the ceasefire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding," Obama told a news conference, according to AFP.
Similarly, Israelis need to "feel confident that they're not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launchers that we've seen over the last several weeks," he added.
Obama said that the United States was supporting ceasefire talks but said, "Long-term, there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off from the world."
Obama reiterated his concern over civilians killed in the conflict, which according to Palestinian Authority-based reports has left dead 1,875 Gazans.
Obama insisted he has "consistently supported Israel's right to defend itself" and repeatedly castigated Hamas, saying that the group has acted "extraordinarily irresponsibly" by launching rockets into Israel.
"I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza," Obama declared, according to AFP.
There have been tensions between Washington and Jerusalem in recent days over the operation in Gaza.
Last week it was reported that Obama had placed heavy pressure on Netanyahu to concede to Hamas's unprecedented demands for a ceasefire. In a leaked transcript of the phone conversation between the two, Obama appears downright hostile at points, and even cuts off Netanyahu in the middle of his protestations over the one-sided truce proposal.
On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki claimed that a phone call between Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry was mysteriously disconnected on Sunday and that the two hadn’t spoken since.
On Wednesday, an unnamed "senior Israeli official" claimed that the call was cut off because Netanyahu had to call a "bereaved family" before the funeral of their son - presumably a soldier killed fighting in Gaza.