Israel rallied world leaders on Thursday to support more military strikes
against Gaza, as Egypt, with US backing, continued to work toward a
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington had
urged Cairo to take steps to calm the situation.
“We ask Egypt to use its
influence in the region to help de-escalate the situation,” he said.
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to their
Egyptian counterparts by phone on Wednesday in an appeal for partnership in
deescalating the tension.
Obama told President Mohamed Morsi that Egypt
had a “central role in preserving regional security.”
Obama, according to
a White House statement put out after the call, stressed to Morsi that Israel
has the right to self-defense.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the foreign
press that “Israel will continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said, “We are not going to
settle for a cease-fire that will be violated within a week or two.”
“We want to prevent
Palestinians in Gaza from returning to terror activity against Israel,” he
Netanyahu spent Thursday in Tel Aviv in security and diplomatic
When a warning siren rang out in Tel Aviv, he moved to a
secure room, and continued working.
He spoke with Russian President
Vladmir Putin and French President François Hollande. He was expected to speak
later in the night with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This followed
conversations he had late Wednesday night with Obama, UN Secretary- General Ban
Ki-moon and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine
Liberman also spoke with his counterparts, including the foreign
ministers of Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and
The UK on Thursday issued a strong statement in support of
Israel’s right to defend itself.
“Hamas bears principal responsibility
for the current crisis,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
condemned the rocket attacks on Israel and said that they must stop
The attacks created an “intolerable situation” for Israelis,
who had the right to live without fear, he said.
“I call on those in the
region with influence over Hamas to use that influence to bring about an end to
the attacks,” Hague said.
Still, he also “strongly urge[d] Israel to do
their utmost to reduce tension, avoid civilian casualties... The escalation of
the conflict would be in no one’s interest, particularly at a time of
instability in the region.”
The events of recent days, he said, “have
underscored the need for a twostate solution which allowed Israelis and
Palestinians to live alongside each other in peace and security.”
country would do all it could to support the resumption of negotiations, Hague
The United States on Wednesday and Thursday blamed Hamas for the
violence, and supported Israel’s right to defense.
“There is no
justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are
employing against the people of Israel,” White House spokesman Jay Carney
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it was legitimate
for Israel to protect its citizens.
Quartet special envoy Tony Blair told
CNN, “If there are rockets fired from Gaza, Israel will
France’s Hollande has begun talks with Netanyahu, Egypt’s
Morsi and other world leaders in an effort to avert an escalation of violence in
the Gaza Strip, French Prime Minister Jean-Francois Ayrault said on
“It’s time to stop this escalation, which is dangerous for the
security of Israel and its people and for that of the Palestinian people,”
Ayrault told reporters during a visit to Berlin.
France had made “direct
contact” with Netanyahu and Morsi, he added.
Arab leaders condemned
Israel, with Egypt and the Palestinians appealing to the UN Security Council to
The council held a closed-door meeting late Wednesday night,
but issued only an oral message that the violence must stop.
conversations he held with Ban and then with Obama, urged them to force Israel
to stop its Gaza attacks.
The UN secretary-general’s office denied on
Thursday evening Israeli media reports that he was traveling to the
Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil was scheduled to visit Gaza
on Friday, in an attempt to broker a cease-fire. It will be the first visit to
Gaza by an Egyptian prime minister.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said in Tel
Aviv, “I saw today a picture of a bleeding Israeli baby. This picture says it
all: Hamas deliberately targets our children, and they deliberately place their
rockets next to their children. Despite this reality, and it’s a very difficult
reality, Israel will continue to do everything in its power to avoid civilian
“There is no moral symmetry; there is no moral equivalence,
between Israel and the terrorist organizations in Gaza. The terrorists are
committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians, and they hide
behind Palestinian civilians. And by contrast, Israel takes every measure to
avoid civilian casualties,” he said.
Hamas, he said, had placed more than
a million Israelis in danger, and no government would tolerate that.
the past 24 hours Israel had made it clear that it would not tolerate rocket and
missile attacks on its civilians. I hope that Hamas and the other terror
organizations in Gaza got the message,” he said.
Reuters contributed to
this report. •