President Barack Obama expressed concern to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday about the peril of an escalation of hostilities in the region and said the United States was ready to help bring them to an end, the White House said.
“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a replication to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the White House said Obama told Netanyahu in a telephone call. Obama reiterated U.S. condemnation of rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and reaffirmed Israel’s right to maintain itself against the attacks, the White House said.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Egyptian counterpart in an endeavor to get Egypt to use its influence to calm the situation, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“Part of the secretary’s effort has been handing out to rural areas in the region, including Qatar, including Egypt,” Psaki said at a briefing earlier in the day.
“Any land in the region that can act a role in bringing an end to the rocket fire from Hamas, we’re surely failing to be occupied with.”
The U.S. government refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, which Washington sees a terrorist organization. Egypt played an essential part in mediating an Israel-Hamas ceasefire in 2012.
A senior U.S. official said Kerry’s phone call with Egypt’s foreign minister was a discussion about how to bring down tensions between Israel and Hamas and “how to influence Hamas if that’s possible.”
The Israelis “now we have been in touch with Egypt and Qatar” to seek aid in calming the situation in Gaza, the functionary stated