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

Eric Garner death prompts NYPD retraining, pols demanding…

The New York City Police Department will revise training procedures for its officers following the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner after an arrest gone awry.

National

Parched Texas town turns to sewage water to…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - When the going got tough due one of with worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita…

International

NYPD: Robber makes elderly man drive to Queens…

A robber grabbed an elderly man's neck outside a Queens supermarket, stole his wallet and made him drive to ATMs for withdrawals last week, police said.

Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.

Parenting

Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.