The White House is sending out mixed signals about the conflict in Israel.
During the Tuesday press briefing, the administration condemned the actions of terrorist organizations in Gaza, yet also encouraged Israel to leave a channel open for negotiations with these terrorist organizations. But, in 2012 Barack Obama said that “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction.”
Israeli Defense Forces reacted to a slew of Palestinian acts of violence on Tuesday night, and fired rockets into more than 160 sites in Gaza, including weapon storage facilities, homes of Palestinian militants and Hamas compounds.
But this is just the beginning. Israel has already called in reservists, as many believe that the small country is preparing to send in ground troops.
“The operation against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very high,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said.
Hamas, along with other terrorist groups in Gaza, have fired numerous rockets into Israel over the past two days.
“No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Yet, as the United States attempts to support Israel, it also contradicts itself. White House foreign policy representative Philip Gordon called for negotiations with Palestinian president Muhammad al-Abbas yesterday — while in Israel.
“Israel should not take for granted the opportunity to negotiate that peace with President Abbas, who has shown time and again that he is committed to nonviolence and coexistence with Israel,” Gordon said.
Conversely, the White House also praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for calling upon both sides to act responsibly. But they also issued concerns about the safety and security of both Israeli and Palestinian citizens, as both sides are subject to rocket fire.
This past weekend, United States Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Netanyahu, reiterating the United States’ concern regarding the escalating tensions and willingness to restore a cease-fire.
“It is not in the interest of either side for this violence to continue and even to escalate,” Earnest said. “So we are hopeful that even as Israel exercises their right to self-defense that they’ll leave open a channel for diplomacy to prevail and for a cease-fire, or at least a de-escalation in the violence, to commence.”
The State Department later condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel as well as endangering innocent Palestinian civilians with their actions.
“I know there’s been a range of reported attacks that have gone directly on both sides, the residents of southern Israel who are forced to live under rocket fire in their homes, the civilians in Gaza who are subjected to the conflict because of Hamas’s action,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
On Wednesday, the code red rocket alert sounded yet again in various Israeli cities — including Tel Aviv, Zichron, Yaakov and Binyamina. All of the 60+ rockets were fired from Gaza, and in the time since, Islamic Jihdad took responsibility for the two rockets intercepted over Tel Aviv.
The Iron Dome rocket defense system has been able to intercept most rockets hurled from Gaza, thus limiting the damage.
Despite these violent attacks being fired from both sides, the United States remains ambivalent towards their ally in the Middle East. Yesterday at the Ha’aretz Israel Conference for Peace, White House Middle East Special Assistant Philip Gordon came out with some harsh advice for Israel.
“Israel confronts an undeniable reality: it cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,” Gordon said. “ Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability. It will embolden extremists on both sides, tear at Israel’s democratic fabric, and feed mutual dehumanization.”
The administration called for a two state solution, and believes that neither occupation nor expulsion is the correct answer. Just as Israelis have the right to their own land, so do the Palestinians.
As the conflict rages on, analysis from the Jerusalem Post states that the Islamist movement is “searching for ways to rid itself of the escalation.” Similarly, the Times of Israel, states that Arab society is becoming increasingly critical of Hamas.
Gordon also referred to the United States as Israel’s “greatest defender and closest friend,” although America has yet to officially back Netanyahu’s actions, or provide military or monetary support for Israel in the current conflict.