US President Barack Obama phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called an immediate and unconditional ceasefire while condemning rocket attacks by Hamas and expressing concern over the rising deaths of Palestinian civilians in the 20-day Gaza conflict.
Obama underscored the United States’ strong condemnation of Hamas’ rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself.
“The President also reiterated the United States’ serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza,” the White House said in a statement.
Building on the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, Obama made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.
In the statement, Obama reaffirmed US support for Egypt’s peace initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities.
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“The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority,” the White House said.
During the phone call to Netanyahu, Obama stressed the US view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarisation of Gaza.