US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Hamas of holding the people of Gaza hostage Friday and said the United States continues to seek a "durable and sustainable" cease-fire in the Middle East.
Speaking to reporters in the White House driveway after a meeting with US President George W. Bush, Rice also said that the United States remains "very concerned about the situation there and is working very hard with our partners around the world."
But she reiterated the Bush administration argument that any cease-fire in fighting that is now into its seventh day must hinge on the willingness of Hamas to stop firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. Rice also said she has no current plans to travel to the region.
"Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage ever since their illegal coup against the forces of [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas," she said. Rice also charged that Hamas "has used Gaza as a launching pad" for firing rockets into the Jewish state and that, as a result, the Palestinians living in Gaza have had "a very bad daily life."