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November 18, 2012

Obama supports Israel's right to defend itself

In President Obama's first comments about the situation, he repeatedly backed Israel’s right to defend itself but said he would prefer to decrease violence if possible. He said he expects progress within 24 to 48 hours.

"There's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders," he said at a news conference in Bangkok. "We are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself."

Obama said if the violence continues it will delay the peace process.

"If we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza, then the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future,"
Obama said.

In recent days, Obama has spoken to leaders in Egypt and Turkey, urging them to engage Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group, and bring an end to the rocket fire that has occurred in both the Gaza Strip and southern Israel for several days. Israel began targeting Hamas government and media buildings after an attack on Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted at a ground invasion, though there were no new indications Sunday. White House officials have said Israel has not asked for specific assistance,
though the U.S. did help fund the Iron Dome, which has successfully halted some rockets that have been fired out of Gaza.


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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