US Wants Hamas to Abide by Ceasefire Agreement

Lalit K Jha, Washington
US Wants Hamas to Abide by Ceasefire Agreement

Describing the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel as completely unacceptable, the US has said it wanted Hamas to abide by the ceasefire with the Jewish state as proposed by Egypt.

"The fact that the Egyptians, in a very compressed time period, put forward this specific proposal and had this proposal considered and accepted by the Israelis I think is an important step," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday.

"What we need to see now is Hamas and some of the other groups that are operating in the area abide by this common-sense cease-fire agreement that was put forward by the Egyptians," he said in response to a question.

Israel had accepted the ceasefire within few hours, signalled an openness of its government to abide by the agreement. But unfortunately, through that time period, Hamas and other groups that are launching rockets from Gaza into Israel have continued that activity, he said.

He said firing of rockets from Gaza at innocent civilians in Israel was completely unacceptable and Israel's leaders were entitled to take the kinds of actions that were necessary to keep their citizens safe.

"What we would like to see is we'd like to see Hamas accept the terms of the cease-fire agreement that were floated by the Egyptians. That would be a way for us to quickly deescalate the situation and restore some measure of calm to the area, and allow for a broader discussion into the negotiations about trying to bring some enduring sense of calm to that region of the world," he said.

The United States has been in touch with a variety of countries in the region, some of whom do have some influence with Hamas and some of the other groups that are operating there, he said.

"There are a large number of interested parties here, and the United States has been working to use our influence to mobilise the international community and our partners in that area to encourage, even compel Hamas to abide by the cease-fire agreement that was floated by the Egyptians and agreed to by the Israelis," he added.

He said Israeli political leaders had a right, even a responsibility, to protect the welfare of their citizens.

"Israel has a right to defend itself. That is a right that we have articulated and defended on multiple occasions, and I'm willing to do so now. What we would ask the Israelis to do is to exhibit some concern for the safety and welfare of innocent civilians who are at risk of being caught in the cross-fire," he said.

Egypt has put forward a cease-fire proposal that Israel has accepted. Hamas and the other groups who are firing rockets from Palestinian-held territories should also accept the terms of it, he said.

"That's the way that we can ensure the safety or at least enhance the safety and well-being of civilians who are caught in the crossfire in that region," he said.

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