Monday 24 October 2016

Israel Continues to Be One of Our Strongest Allies: US

Lalit K Jha, Washington

The US has said that Israel continues to be one of its "strongest allies" and denied any rift in their bilateral ties in the wake of the Jewish state's deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip.

"Israel continues to be one of this country's strongest allies," White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters when asked about reported differences between the US and Israel.

"The nature of our relationship is strong and unchanged," he said yesterday.

"We resolutely defend Israel's right to defend themselves and to take the kinds of military steps that they assess are necessary to protect their citizens. They have a responsibility to do that," he said.

"We do continue our work with the Israelis and Palestinians and other parties in the region to try to bring both sides to the table to bring this violence to an end immediately," he said.

"As we've said many times, it is not in the interest of either side for this violence to continue. The tragic loss of life that we've seen on both sides of this conflict needs to come to an end. That tragic loss of life includes the many innocent Palestinian civilians who have been killed. It also includes the Israeli civilians who have been killed by Hamas rockets that have been aimed squarely at them," he said.

The US meanwhile has also strongly supported the latest 72-hour ceasefire proposal between Israel and the Hamas.

"We strongly support this latest proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire and urge both parties to respect it completely," State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said.

Commending the government of Egypt and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, she said the US will continue to work with the international partners to find a way forward that not only brings an end to the violence, but also addresses the underlying issues through a durable, sustainable solution for the long term.

Psaki also asserted her statement over the weekend which was critical of the Israeli strike at a UN facility.

"We have seen hundreds of individuals displaced in Gaza. Dozens have died in these incidents, and this was a reflection of our view that there's more that Israel can do to prevent civilian casualties. That was what it was speaking to," she said.

"It does not change the fact that Israel remains an important security and strategic partner of the US. We believe they have the right to defend themselves. While they have the right to defend themselves, there is more they can do in that regard to prevent events like those that happened just yesterday," Psaki said.

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