On the fourth day of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, the U.S. president, Barack Obama, offered Thursday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. mediation to achieve a truce between Israel and Hamas. In a telephone conversation, Obama told Netanyahu that Washington “is prepared to facilitate a ceasefire, including a return to the ceasefire agreement of November 2012.” That agreement was driven by the U.S. and Egypt, and came after eight days of bloody crossfire that killed at least 154 Palestinians and five Israelis.
In the call on Thursday, U.S. President condemned the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel by the Islamist group Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and the EU, supported the right of Israel to defend itself, but said his “concern” over the escalating violence and urged both sides to “restore calm and protect the lives of civilians”after the death of 88 Palestinians by Israeli air strikes.
In 2012 Washington refused to negotiate directly with Hamas to consider a terrorist group and now seeks to return to Egypt to mediate, as two years ago, between Israel and the Islamist organization. The Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, spoke Thursday with his Egyptian counterpart to try to convince him that Cairo use its influence to calm the situation, explained the State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, a few hours before Obama’s call. “Part of the efforts of the Secretary have been contacting the countries of the region including Qatar and Egypt. We are going to contact any country in the region that may play a role in ending rocket fire by Hamas, “he said in his daily briefing.
Words that Obama told Netanyahu are in line with the statements this week by the spokesmen of the White House and State Department have done to balance, on the one hand, support the right of Israel to defend itself and send a message Hamas stronghold; and, on the other, both parties request contention and urged to keep open a diplomatic channel.
By offering ceasefire, Washington seeks to prevent the spiral of violence spreading and arrives at some time in their relations with Israel and the Palestinian authorities. In early June, the State Department called for working with the new Government of forging unity between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah party, which runs the West Bank, which did not like the Executive Netanyahu.