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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Vienna (AFP) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to renew a U.S. offer to help mediate a truce as Israel stepped up its military campaign against the Gaza Strip.

Kerry “highlighted the U.S. concern about escalating tensions on the ground,” a senior State Department official said.

The top U.S. diplomat also told the Israeli leader that he was engaged with regional leaders “to help to stop the rocket fire so calm can be restored and civilian casualties prevented”.

Kerry had condemned the militant rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel, and “stressed Israel’s right to defend itself”.

But he also “underscored the United States’ readiness to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”

The Palestinian death toll from the punishing Israeli air campaign hit 166 on Sunday, with another 1,120 people wounded, the emergency services said.

Despite increasing calls for a ceasefire, Netanyahu said the military was hitting Hamas “with growing force,” warning there was no end in sight.

“We do not know when this operation will end,” he told ministers.

Saturday’s death toll was the highest yet with 56 people killed, including 18 people who died in a single strike on a house in Gaza City, Palestinian medics said.

Top diplomats from Britain, France, Germany and the United States were due to discuss truce efforts in Vienna on Sunday on the sidelines of talks on Iran.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier as he arrived for talks that “there is an urgent need to bring an end to the violence in Gaza.”

Israel has warned that preparations are under way for a possible ground incursion, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying a decision was expected later Sunday, at a meeting of the security cabinet.

But commentators said Israel was not in a rush to begin a ground operation.

AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski

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  • rustacus21

    … maybe there’s no one in Washington smart enough to do what our brilliant, Rhodes Scholar & master of the process of NEGOTIATIONS – PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON!!! What’s wrong w/these guys in the White House anyway?! Don’t they know there are PEOPLE DYING – ON BOTH SIDES?!?! Maybe its time to negotiate w/Republicans & impeach Obama, if only to put members of the last administration on trial for war crimes, but somehow or another, we need a Liberal/Progressive agenda in the Executive that isn’t afraid to walk into the difficulties of the world w/out thinking like the 2001-2009 CONSERVATIVE DEBACLE that led DIRECTLY TO THIS!!! In 8 short years, the WHOLE Middle East had become – if not FRIENDS – at LEAST wary allies w/interests in mutual peace at their borders. The Israeli’s & Palestinians were ready to reach a conclusive deal & while the American administration SLEPT, 9/11 happens & creates global chaos!!! There was no excuse for sleeping on the job, if the responsibilities are so vast & interconnected!!! This is what happens w/conservatives at the wheel. This is why Obama can’t get on track, b/c the conservative STILL WON’T LET GO OF IT!!! It’s time he figure that out after 5 years & be a Liberal as he campaigned – or just remain the conservative he’s been bullied into being…

  • docb
  • Dominick Vila

    Unfortunately, we don’t have any credibility when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. Deservedly or not, our record speaks for itself, and our unconditional support to Israel, regardless of what they do, make our diplomatic overtures look like a farce. I joint Arab-European diplomatic effort is likely to be more successful than anything we do.
    Most Muslims, as well as people in many parts of the world, see us as the problem, and the root cause for the upheaval that has characterized life in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf for decades. The fact that Israel, a prosperous and modern country with a formidable military apparatus, has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid and military aid during the last half century, the fact that we overtly support their actions regardless of who started the periodic upheavals, the fact that we threaten intervention if Israel’s security is ever compromised, and the fact that we ignore Israel’s public rebukes, such as the one made by Netanyahu when President Bush, naively, announced that a solution was around the corner after the Annapolis talks, deny us the right to even insinuate American intervention as arbiters to settle ongoing turmoil
    Unfortunately for the Palestinians, they started the latest incident when a group of young Palestinians murdered three Israeli teenagers. Regardless of whether that was a deliberate act to attract world attention to their plight or not, retaliation should have been neither unexpected nor unjustified. What is wrong is the extent of the Israeli response. They accuse Hamas of launching rudimentary rockets from civilian neighborhoods. Where exactly do they expect the rocket launchers to be? The Gaza Strip is an overpopulated concentration camp, where everything is controlled and decided by the Israeli government. They control who enters and leaves, how much food, water, and medicine is allowed in, and don’t hesitate to demand who their leaders should be. I doubt too many people would criticize Israel for bringing justice to those responsible for the murders of the 3 Israeli teenagers, but they have gone over the top. Civilized nations don’t burn teenagers, they don’t beat visiting Americans to a pulp, and they don’t slaughter 200 civilians and injured a thousand. Israel must lead the peace process. They are the greatest military superpower in the region and, purportedly, a beacon of freedom and democracy in the region. The time to demonstrate the truth behind their claims is now.