WASHINGTON — It’s not likely the United States and the international community can broker a new ceasefire agreement in Gaza while an Israeli soldier captured Friday remains in captivity, President Obama said at a press conference today.
“It’s going to be very hard to put a ceasefire back together again if Israelis and the international community can’t feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a ceasefire commitment,” Obama said. “It’s not particularly relevant whether a particular leader in Hamas ordered this abduction. The point is, when they sign onto a ceasefire they’re claiming to speak for all the Palestinian factions.”
The president said the Israeli soldier should be released without condition as proof Hamas is serious about resolving the ongoing conflict.
“If we’re able to get a ceasefire that preserves Israel’s ability to defend itself, and gives it the capacity to have an assurance that they’re not going to be constantly threatened by rocket fire in the future,” Obama said, when asked later in the press conference about another ceasefire. “And, conversely, an agreement that recognizes the Palestinian need to be able to make a living and the average Palestinian’s need to live a decent life.”
“It’s hard. It’s going to be hard to get there,” Obama said. “There’s a lot of anger and there’s a lot of despair, and that’s a volatile mix.”