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

Protesters say new Met Opera is anti-Semitic

Protesters, including a former mayor and governor, gathered outside of the Metropolitan Opera on Monday afternoon to protest the opening of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Local

Brooklyn girl's death ruled a homicide

The New York City Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a Brooklyn toddler a homicide. Jeida Torres, 3, was found bruised and unresponsive Saturday…

Local

New York City continues to prepare for Ebola…

New York City continues to prepare for the possibility of Ebola. There have been numerous scares, but no confirmed cases. Representatives from about 150 unions…

Local

NYPD nabs alleged serial bank robber

  The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for multiple Manhattan bank robberies this month. Police have arrested a Brooklyn man they…

Entertainment

We the Economy: Morgan Spurlock's new crusade

If Morgan Spurlock gets his way, you won't be able to avoid We the Economy, the series of 20 shorts films curated by the "Super…

Arts

3 Parody plays lampoon your childhood, adulthood and…

Whether you loved the source material or you're going in blind, these parody plays have something for every audience member. We rate three of NYC's hottest satirical shows.

Gossip

Who has more power: Harry Styles or Amal…

Amal Clooney comes in fourth on The Evening Standard's Most Influential Londoners list.

Music

#AskPaul McCartney reveals his love of American pop…

For an Englishman, Paul McCartney's pop culture tastes would fit right in stateside. The former Beatle (@PaulMcCartney) revealed that he has a real thing for…

NFL

John Idzik: 'We did a ton of background'…

Given John Idzik spent the previous five years with the Seahawks before he joined the Jets last January, there is a comfort level for the organization.

NFL

Jets add sizzle to struggling passing game with…

The Jets’ trade for Percy Harvin may have an air of desperation on the surface, but at 1-6 this season is hanging only by a thread.

NFL

Jason Pierre-Paul: 'We've got to regroup' during bye…

“We’ve got to regroup and figure out what went wrong,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “When we come back, we want to be a great team.”

NFL

Breno Giacomini: Media blowing up Golden Tate-Percy Harvin…

According to Breno Giacomini, the fight between Golden Tate and Percy Harvin during Super Bowl week was over by the time the lineman turned around.

Education

Is a 'gap year' after high school for…

It’s a familiar script that millions of students follow each year: Graduate high school and then immediately start college. But more and more students are…

Parenting

New news about Kate Middleton's pregnancy

The Palace released a statement about Kate Middleton's pregnancy.

Parenting

Cool book for kids: 'The Princess In Black'

"The Princess In Black" will change the way girls view princesses.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…