Clinton heads to Middle East for Gaza crisis talks

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East for urgent talks with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders in his most decisive move yet to try to halt the Gaza crisis.

Clinton left an Asian summit in Cambodia’s capital, which she was attending with Obama, and headed for Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first round of a new U.S. diplomatic initiative.

“We want to … send a clear message that it’s in nobody’s interest to see an escalation of the military conflict,” U.S. deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters in Phnom Penh.

Clinton’s mission appeared to signal growing U.S. alarm over the prospects of a threatened Israeli ground invasion of Gaza as Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli air strikes continued for a seventh day.

Washington has seemed powerless to affect unfolding events and has faced criticism of a hesitant response, and the Gaza crisis has dogged Obama on an Asia trip meant to show a “pivot” East as the United States winds down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rhodes said the onus remained on Hamas to halt its rocket barrages into Israel and stuck to the administration’s stance that Israel had a right to defend itself.

But he said, “We all agree that the best way to resolve this is through diplomacy, so that you have a peaceful settlement that ends that rocket fire and allows for a broader calm in the region.”

Clinton was due to meet Netanyahu on Wednesday and then go to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority leaders, presumably President Mahmoud Abbas.

She was then to travel to Cairo, where Rhodes would say only that she would meet “Egyptian leaders.”

That would likely mean an encounter with Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who has spoken by phone several times with Obama since the Gaza crisis erupted and is seen as a possible linchpin in getting Hamas to back down.

“Secretary Clinton will emphasize the United States’ interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel’s security and regional stability, an outcome that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza, and that could re-open the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for two states living side by side in peace and security,” Rhodes said.

Asked whether Obama was specifically asking Netanyahu to hold off on any ground assault to give more time for diplomacy, Rhodes said: “No. The president has been very clear that Israel is going to make decisions on its security.”

Obama, weighing in with his first comments on the crisis on Sunday, said t would be “preferable” to avoid an Israeli ground invasion but urged Egypt and Turkey to do more to rein in Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist group.

Obama promised to make Israeli-Palestinian peace diplomacy a high priority when he took office in 2009, but his administration’s on-again-off-again efforts have done little if anything to bring the two sides any closer to the negotiating table.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…