US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrived in Jerusalem late Tuesday
night amidst announcements that a cease-fire deal between Israel and
Hamas had been delayed.
“America's commitment to Israel's
security is rock sold and unwavering. That is why we believe it is
essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza,” Clinton said in a joint
press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
said that US President Barack Obama had asked her to come to Israel
with a clear message: "America's commitment to Israel's security is rock
The rocket attacks against Israel must end and calm must be restored, she said.
goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and
advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and
Palestinians alike,” Clinton continued.
“Our hearts break for the
loss of every civilian, Israeli and Palestinian. I know that today was a
difficult day and I offer my deepest condolences to the loved ones of
the lost and injured." The Gaza crisis, Clinton said, underscores the
urgency to find an outcome that bolsters Israeli security, improves
living conditions for the people in Gaza and moves toward a
comprehensive peace for all people in the region.
She said she
planned to discuss this with Netanyahu, and later with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, before heading on Wednesday to Cairo.
Egypt, she said, has a responsibility and the opportunity to play a crucial and constructive role in restoring calm.
For his part, Netanyahu said that Israel is open to a diplomatic solution to achieve a long-term ceasefire.
the prime minister reiterated that Israel would do what is necessary to
protect its citizens, during the brief press conference prior to their
Netanyahu expressed deep appreciation to the
US for its role in the development of the Iron Dome, which the prime
minister said has saved countless lives.
A Hamas official said
late Tuesday night that Egyptian efforts to broker a truce with Israel
had been held up because the Israeli government had yet to respond to
proposals, indicating there would be no ceasefire until Wednesday at the
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government said that it had no plans to announce a cease-fire yet, CNN reported.
spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said late Tuesday that his movement still has
not received Israel's response to the proposed cease-fire.
Abu Zuhri said that the Egyptian presidency would announce any cease-fire agreement when and if it is reached.
He said that in the meantime Hamas and other Palestinian groups would continue to respond to Israeli "crimes."
another Hamas spokesman, Ayman Taha, declared that a cease-fire
agreement had been reached under the auspices of the Egyptians.
Taha claimed that the cease-fire agreement would go into effect around midnight.
Jihad officials also talked about an imminent cease-fire. Islamic Jihad
representative Abu Emad al-Rifai said that a cease-fire agreement would
be announced during a press conference in Cairo at 9.00 p.m.
He described the ostensible cease-fire accord as a "victory" for the Palestinian armed groups.
top Hamas official Ezat Risheq later denied the reports about a
cease-fire agreement. He said he did not expect any agreement to be
announced Tuesday night. He added that as far as the Palestinians were
concerned, "all options remain open."
Prime Minister's Office spokesman Mark Regev earlier told The Jerusalem Post "Until you're there, you're not there."
State Department Victoria spokeswoman carefully avoided the word
cease-fire in her Washington press briefing and referred instead to
She said that what was needed was to end the rocket fire and restore calm, to create space to address “broader issues.”
as well as US President Barack Obama have been in touch with Egyptian,
Israeli and European leaders in the past days, Nuland said.
Obama on Tuesday spoke on the telephone with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi about ways to restore calm.
arrival followed on the heels of a visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki
Moon. He spent the morning in Cairo, from where Egyptian President
Mohammed Morsi has worked to mediate an end to the violence.
then arrived in Israel to meet with Israeli leaders. German Foreign
Minister Guido Westerwelle who was in Israel Tuesday morning flew to
At a joint press conference with Ban,Netanyahu said, “If a
long term diplomatic solution can be put in place through diplomatic
means, than Israel would be a willing partner.”
Already on Sunday, Israel agreed to hold off on a ground offensive into Gaza, to allow time for diplomacy to work.
Netanyahu told Ban, “if stronger military actions proves necessary to
stop the constant barrage of rockets Israel will not hesitate to do what
is necessary to defend our people.”
Since Israel launched
Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, the United States, the
European Union, the United Kingdom and Germany have staunchly defended
its right to protect its citizens from Hamas rocket attacks.
But a number international leaders have cautioned that they would not support a ground offensives.
Ban went further and hinted to Netanyahu that it could be illegal under international law.
said that Hamas was committing a “double war crime, by indiscriminately
targeting Israeli civilians while they hide behind their own.
moment we draw symmetry between the victims of terror and the
unintended casualties that result from legitimate military action
against the terrorists, the minute that false symmetry is drawn, the
terrorists win,” he said.
As someone who only nine months ago
visited Sderot, Ban said, “I know how difficult the situation is here.”
But he added, a ground operation would only result in further tragedy.
Reuters and jpost.com staff contributed to this report