President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today for the first time since the murder of three Israeli teens touched off the latest rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
“The president reiterated the United States’ strong condemnation of continuing rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks. The president expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”
Press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama “once again expressed condolences to the people of Israel on the kidnapping and murder of teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel, who was an American and Israeli citizen, and urged that the perpetrators be brought to justice.” Obama expressed those condolences in a statement issued by the White House on June 30.
“The two leaders also discussed the situation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” today’s readout continued. “The president welcomed the arrest of suspects in the abduction and murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir and expressed appreciation for the prime minister’s determination to see that they be brought to justice. He expressed concern about the beating and detention of teenage American citizen Tariq Khdeir and acknowledged Israel’s efforts to resolve this case.”
“The two leaders discussed the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and the president reiterated that the United States will not accept any agreement that does not ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.”