Gaza conflict: Clinton urges de-escalation

2012-11-21 10:14

Jerusalem - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "rock solid" support for Israel's security while calling for a de-escalation of the conflict in Gaza where fighting on Wednesday entered its eighth day, despite signs of an emerging truce.

The top US diplomat flew in for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as efforts continued across the region to refine an elusive accord to end a week of violence that has cost 136 Palestinian and five Israeli lives.

The Israeli army confirmed its first fatality from rocket attacks on Tuesday, and a civilian contractor working for the defence ministry was also killed, as a longer-range missile landed near Jerusalem and one hit a building in metropolitan Tel Aviv.

The unrelenting violence also claimed the lives of 26 more Palestinians and witnessed an Israeli strike on an eight storey building housing AFP's Gaza City offices, causing no injuries, in the fourth strike on a media building in three days.

In a late-night meeting in Jerusalem, Clinton told Netanyahu that Washington's commitment to Israeli security was "rock solid and unwavering".

But she also stressed that this "is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation" in the Palestinian territory.

Negotiations on going

And she indicated a truce announcement may not emerge until after she completes visits to the West Bank capital of Ramallah and Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

"In these days ahead, the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region for an outcome that bolsters security for the peace of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region," said Clinton.

Militant sources in Gaza had initially said a deal could be announced in Cairo on Tuesday night following days of Egyptian-brokered negotiations between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

But Hamas officials said the indirect negotiations were ongoing, as an Egyptian official said in Cairo that "the truce announcement is not expected tonight because we are still waiting for a response" from the Jewish state.

An Israeli diplomatic source said negotiations were ongoing.

"We are working very hard using our diplomatic channels. We are working continuously. But I cannot give you an estimated time of arrival," at such an agreement, he said.

Sticking point

As they held late night talks in Jerusalem, Netanyahu told Clinton he was ready to agree to a "long-term solution" as long as the rocket attacks from Gaza stopped.

"If there's a possibility of achieving a long-term solution for this problem by diplomatic means, we prefer it. But if not, I'm sure you understand that Israel will have to take every action necessary to defend its people," he said.

A senior Hamas official said in Cairo that a key sticking point was the timing of when Israel would begin easing its six-year blockade of Gaza.

"A compromise solution is for there to be agreement on lifting the siege, and that it would be implemented later at a specified time," he said.

Netanyahu and his key ministers decided in a closed-door meeting late on Monday to place "a temporary hold on a ground incursion to give diplomacy a chance to succeed", as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, after talks in Egypt, urged all parties to end fire "immediately".

Hamas is understood to be seeking guarantees that Israel will stop its targeted killings and end its blockade.

Israel for its part is believed to be looking for a 24- to 48-hour truce as a buffer to work out a more permanent arrangement.

The Security Council held talks late on Tuesday to discuss a demand by Arab nations that it hold a public meeting on the crisis, and although Western diplomats expressed fears such a meeting could harm ceasefire efforts, they agreed to meet on Wednesday.

  • charmaine.mcdonald2 - 2012-11-21 11:05

    What is this war about anyway?

      peanutcluster - 2012-11-21 12:06

      It's about Eastern European settlers establishing a colony in the heart of the Arab lands! Every Israeli Prime Minister since it's inception was from either Lithuania, Poland or somewhere in Russia. Netanyahu is the first Israeli PM born in Israel. His parents were from Russia and his father was a renowned exponent of the "greater Israel" that extends all the way to Iraq!

      ronald.utenhage - 2012-11-21 12:28

      It is about you and your family having a house. Only problem, your bedroom is 100’s km’s away from your brother’s bedroom and also you have not seen your brother in 20 years because the people who divided you are Zionist and now have a moral high ground to say the erf your house is built on is theirs. Then because you fight an oppose them, they label you a terrorist, if they fight you, they ‘defend ‘their right to oppress you, their right to build their homes on your property and find it strange that you have the audacity to oppose them. Oh yes, and they have the a large portion of the white world standing behind them, because 9/11 made turn these freedom fighters into terrorists.

  • joy.moloi.3 - 2012-11-21 11:23

    Clinton choosing sides is not what is important now, do everything you can to bring peace and then you will tell us later which side you are a fan of. Too many people have died, Hamas must stop with their rockets, Israel must give back the land.

      joy.moloi.3 - 2012-11-21 13:29

      As a start, the land that was taken a month ago, a Palestinian house was demolished, after that they must leave east jerusalem, the capital of palestinian people

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-21 11:23

    Eigth day? Its been in the news since 1986

  • abuzakariyah.abrahams - 2012-11-21 11:39

    you ignorant deaf, dumb and blind people dont have a clue what this war is about!! You dont qualify to comment on this matter. This is NOT what your weak minds perceive!

      neutedop.opinie - 2012-11-21 12:05

      And your Muslim name makes you an expert. Please enlighten us: what is this about? Because I lived there, served there, so am in a pretty good position to comment. Go drag some corpses through streets, after you shot them without proof and a trail. Oh yes, and then go bomb your own people in Syria....oh wait, you don't comment on that stuff.

      werner.coetzer.311 - 2012-11-21 12:17

      Eat bacon, you'll feel better

      moses.mabhida.52 - 2012-11-21 12:23

      And what makes a terrorist qualify? Israel, the free world is behind you 100%

      henry.justice.372 - 2012-11-21 12:37

      It's about you self rightious satan lovers religious duty to wipe every non muslim from the face of the earth or convert them at the point of a sword. Please tell us what muslims do to apostates , everyone else just let them be,please inform us what "allah" commands

  • andrew.schonfrucht - 2012-11-21 12:26

    Time to question the Hamas leadership. If the West Bank is not being bombed - why so the Gaza? How long would you last if you were having rocket warnings around you before you ask your government to react decisively? Sorry, but a ceasefire will just mean Hamas will get a few more long range missiles smuggled in. Peace will only prevail IF the Gaza "governement" actually govern and stop acts of terror like they are doing in the West Bank. By the way Abubu whatsyername having a name and surname like you DOES qualify you to comment?

  • peanutcluster - 2012-11-21 16:05

    Ronald - you a class act! 100%

  • pages:
  • 1