Obama tells Israel U.S. ready to help end hostilities

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:33pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Austin, Texas July 10, 2014.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Austin, Texas July 10, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama expressed concern to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday about the risk of an escalation of hostilities in the region and said the United States was ready to help bring them to an end, the White House said.

"The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement," the White House said Obama told Netanyahu in a phone call.

Obama reiterated U.S. condemnation of rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself against the attacks, the White House said.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Egyptian counterpart in an attempt to get Egypt to use its influence to calm the situation, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"Part of the secretary's effort has been reaching out to countries in the region, including Qatar, including Egypt," Psaki said at a briefing earlier in the day.

"Any country in the region that can play a role in bringing an end to the rocket fire from Hamas, we're certainly going to be engaged with."

The U.S. government refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization.

Egypt played a crucial role in mediating an Israel-Hamas ceasefire in 2012.

A senior U.S. official said Kerry's phone call with Egypt's foreign minister was a discussion about how to reduce tensions between Israel and Hamas and "how to influence Hamas if that's possible."

The Israelis "know we have been in touch with Egypt and Qatar" to seek help in calming the situation in Gaza, the official said.

(With additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (31)
Bighammerman wrote:
NoBama created this by not supporting Israel. After all the unprovoked rocket attacks NoBama must finally realize that you can’t talk to people that want to behead you, kill you and destroy your country. Clinton and Kerry don’t see it either. To sum up, NoBama has failed again and it is costing lives. It always does and it is a travesty.

Jul 10, 2014 7:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
WCTopp wrote:
Useless. Israel has the firm backing of a superpower that will veto absolutely any resolution at the Security Council and guarantee Israel’s safety regardless of what they do. The Palestinians have zip beyond some financial backing of their wealthier Arab neighbors. That superpower is a good part of the problem, trying to be a part of the solution will be absolutely counterproductive. Israel needs to know they’re going this alone with no backstop before they’ll ever negotiate with any possibility of compromise. So long as they feel invulnerable due to their superpower cover there’s no serious peace negotiation. They’ve zero reason to compromise anything.

Jul 10, 2014 7:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Nagant wrote:
Obama should better stay away from that. Any cessation of hostilities at this point would be trumpeted by Hamas as a victory. And, as a result, they’ll be willing to try for another victory in the near future. They must get a serious beating and beg for ceasefire, only then the ceasefire will hold for any measurable length of time. Let the IDF win!

Jul 10, 2014 8:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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