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US supports 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza

August 06, 2014 11:50 IST

Supporting the latest ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, the United States has asked the two sides to abide by their commitment and look towards establishing lasting peace in the region.

“The United States certainly supports the latest 72-hour ceasefire proposal that appears both sides are respecting and abiding by at this point,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

Earnest said that a ceasefire will only be sustained if both sides who are a party to this conflict make the decision not to prolong the violence. “I would anticipate that both sides will have long-held grievances and concerns about the conduct of the other side,” he said.

“So it’s going to require at least addressing some of these deep-seated issues in order to get a more sustainable ceasefire in place. So the United States and the UN and others will be advocating for a ceasefire to remain in place and against the resumption of violence, but I think it’s going to require a decision to be made by both sides. It will also require a discussion of some of the underlying issues that have plagued the situation for so many years,” Earnest said.

For weeks, the US, from the President to the Secretary of State on down, have been actively engaged with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership - with the United Nations, other multilateral organisations like the Arab League, and even other relevant parties like the Egyptians and the Turks and the Qataris -- to try to bring the violence to an end and both sides to the table to resolve this conflict, he said. “We have noted for some time that an immediate ceasefire was critical to bringing about the kind of calm in which negotiations could occur,” he added.

Noting that there has been mounting international concern over the significant loss of life that has been sustained in this conflict, he said the US has also seen the Israelis make significant progress in terms of destroying the tunnels that were used by Hamas fighters to carry out acts of violence against Israeli soldiers. “We believe that the circumstances for a ceasefire have been strengthened. More importantly, that is a conclusion that was arrived at by the two parties in this conflict, the Palestinians and the Israelis,” he said.

Responding to questions, Earnest said there is no doubt that the Israeli government did previously agree to a truce. “I actually think that this happened a couple of times, that the Israeli government agreed to a ceasefire and we saw that it was violated by Hamas. That is something that we were quite critical of on those occasions in which it occurred. We said many times that each day that this conflict continues that more civilians are going to be put in harm’s way and their lives will be put at risk,” he said.

“That is why this administration worked so hard in pursuit of a diplomatic resolution to at least put in place the kind of temporary ceasefire that would allow both sides to come to the table and have a discussion over the longer term by trying to put in place a protocol for deescalating that conflict,” he added.

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