News / Middle East

    Kerry in Cairo for Gaza Talks

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon make statements to reporters in Cairo, Egypt, July 21, 2014.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon make statements to reporters in Cairo, Egypt, July 21, 2014.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon are in Cairo for talks Tuesday with Egyptian and Arab League officials on finding an end to the fighting in Gaza.

    President Barack Obama said he sent Kerry to Cairo to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

    "The work will not be easy. Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved," Obama said. "Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation to hostilities. We don’t want to see any more civilians getting killed."

    On arrival, Ban called for a truce "without any condition." 

    Senior State Department officials traveling with Kerry said it is that "growing concern" in Washington about rising civilian casualties that prompted this trip.

    Restoring the 2012 cease-fire is more difficult because of the change of government in Cairo.

    Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood negotiated that deal, in part, on the strength of long-standing ties with Hamas.

    Egypt's new leader, the former general Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, is far less sympathetic to Hamas, meaning Kerry needs to include Hamas backers such as Qatar and Turkey.

    But Qatar and Egypt are at odds over the treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood since the coup against Morsi.

    And acrimony between Turkey and Israel has grown since Israeli troops entered Gaza, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling Israel a terrorist state that is attempting a "systematic genocide" against Palestinians.

    Senior State Department officials said getting back to a cease-fire also will be harder because the conflict itself is further along than it was in 2012, and because Hamas believes some of what it was promised two years ago was never delivered, so the group will need more convincing this time.

    Last week, Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire as "not worth the ink it was written with" because it offered no relief from the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza.

    A senior State Department official said "there may be an effort" to address border crossings in a renewed cease-fire push, stressing that Washington is looking to "find a more robust solution" to the conflict beyond a cease-fire.

    In Cairo late Monday, Kerry announced $47 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance for Palestinians, including shelter, food and medical supplies for Gaza.

    The Obama administration said it remains committed to addressing the humanitarian needs of Palestinians and will continue to monitor that situation closely.

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    Comment Sorting
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    by: meanbill from: USA
    July 21, 2014 8:17 PM
    MY PERSONAL OPINION? .. After analyzing all the news media films and stories, I have reached the conclusion that Israel is deliberating targeting innocent Palestinians and not Hamas militants..... in homes, apartment buildings, and even hospitals, and the Israeli excuses are unrealistic.....

    FACTS? ... The Israeli troops are targeting the upper floors of apartment buildings known to be homes of the Palestinians, and knowing that Hamas militants wouldn't be there firing rockets, and knowing the Hamas militants would be firing rockets from the streets, and hiding in tunnels..... (and), the Israeli plan, is to kill so many innocent Palestinians, that Hamas would finally surrender to the Israel ceasefire plans....

    WHY should Israel troops shoot and bomb the top floors of the apartment buildings, when the Israeli troops know, that Hamas isn't hiding there, and shooting rockets from there? ... (To kill innocent Palestinians only, when they can't locate Hamas militants?).


    by: Not Again from: Canada
    July 21, 2014 7:47 PM
    Once again Hamas, for the third time, has taken Gaza into a tremendously disastrous war; most of the casualties sustained, are caused by Hamas fighting behind civilian structures and using the civilian population as shields.
    Hamas' launch of nearly 1300 rockets into Israel, could have caused tremendous damage to the Israeli civilians, had they not had their Iron Dome missile defence system; it has shot down at a rate just exceeding 90%; notwithstanding its reasonable effectivenes, over 100+ got trhough, and caused serious damage to homes, businesses, and some civilian infrastructure.
    Gaza has faired badly, just like the last two times that Hamas started the past wars. Time to fully demilitarize Gaza, to prevent any more conflicts being started by Hamas.
    This time it took nearly five months, of provocations by Hamas to start the war, Israel sustained just under 300 rockets and well over 100 mortars before responding. The previous war, it took Hamas well over 7 months of provocations to start the war; the first time it took Hamas well over a year of sustained rocket firings before the Israelis responded; from this trend, one can project that next time Hamas starts a war against Israel, it will just take 2 months of provocations. Let us hope there is no next time.
    Hamas' periodicity, every 22 to 24 months they start wars against Israeli civilians, followed by the Israeli forces responding. You would think Hamas would get out of this very bad business. Let us hope the people og Gaza get rid of Hamas, for their own safety and wellbeing.
    Hamas has spent tens of billions in acquiring and prodiucing armaments and bunkers, and massive tunnels to attack Israel, money that would have been better spent developing housing, civilian infrastructure, and a better economic basis. But given that most of the money is donated, they do not have to earn it, they can waste it, with no positive benefit to Gaza or even less to Israel. In addition, some terrorists, I think is just Hamas using another one of its alias', have used Gaza to support a terror war against Egypt in the Sinai.
    Let us hope a long lasting peace comes about in Gaza; with- out terrorism against Israel, or Egypt emmanating from Gaza..

    by: alfredo ibarra barajas from: México
    July 21, 2014 2:26 PM
    . I am seeing again that Israel, as has always been its modus operandi, to retaliate excessively, killing indiscriminately mostly women and children, and threatening again to invade The Gaza Strip with ground forces. I have watched pictures of Israeli soldiers reveling, and dancing after the massacres they committed with their barbarous warfare, like if causing death is something to celebrate about. How much hatred on both sides.The last count of deaths I heard about is of 500 hundred Palestinians vs 20 or 30 Israelis.

    I've seen fathers carrying their dead babies, and poor women stained all over with their children's' blood crying desperately. Obama does not want to sound like too much on behalf of the Palestinians or the Israelis, but he sounds concerned, and with his plate full, on top with the crisis in Ukraine, but he forcefully demanded an immediate cease of the hostilities on both parties. I hope Hamas comes to its senses too, and stops its senseless attacks, only terrorizing innocents. In the end, Hamas will not get anything, except more suffering, death, pauperization, and isolation and maybe even the taking of the whole Gaza Strip by Israel, which I hope never happens.

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