John Kerry attempting to bolster efforts to reach ceasefire
Secretary of State John Kerry is headed back to the Middle East as the White House faces increased scrutiny over a failed foreign policy. He’s attempting to bolster efforts to reach a ceasefire and sharpen the White House’s criticism of Hamas in its conflict with Israel.
Kerry will join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that was agreed upon in Novemember 2012. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called America and our international partners “deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.” Cairo has offered a cease-fire plan that is backed by the U.S. and Israel. But Hamas has rejected the Egyptian plan and is relying on governments in Qatar and Turkey for an alternative proposal. Qatar and Turkey have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also linked to Hamas but banned in Egypt.
Both Obama and Kerry said Israel has a right to defend itself against frequent rocket attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. Kerry accused Hamas of attempting to sedate and kidnap Israelis through a network of tunnels that militants have used to stage cross-border raids.
According to a White House statement, President Obama informed the Prime Minister that Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to Cairo to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President underscored that the United States will work closely with Israel and regional partners on implementing an immediate ceasefire, and stressed the need to protect civilians—in Gaza and in Israel.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called Israel’s latest incursion “atrocious,” and said it must do far more to protect civilians. Several diplomats said the U.N. Security Council held an emergency session Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. local time at the request of council member Jordan on the situation in Gaza.
Kerry spoke on “Fox News Sunday” declining to answer a question about whether Israel has gone too far, saying essentially “it’s very difficult in these situations.” But he defended Israel’s right to “go in and take out” a network of tunnels from which Hamas is allegedly attempting to use to kidnap Israelis.
Netanyahu appeared on ABC’s “This Week” saying that Israel has tried to avoid killing Palestinian civilians through phone calls, text messages and leaflets dropped on their communities. The prime minister said his top goal is to restore a sustainable peace, but then will ask the international community to consider demilitarizing Gaza to rid Hamas of its rockets and shut down the tunnels leading into Israel.
According to the U.N. relief agency in Gaza reports that 70,000 Palestinians have fled their homes and are seeking shelter in schools and other shelters that the U.N. have set up. On CNN’s “State of the Union” the agency’s top director in Gaza reporting that the United Nations have run out of mattresses and only a small amount of medical and hygiene supplies remain.
“People are scared,” Turner said. “They don’t feel safe at home, they don’t feel safe with their families or neighbors. They feel relatively safe in our installations. … We frankly have been overwhelmed by the numbers.”
America will wait and see if Kerry can bring any “hope and change” to the crisis in Israel.
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