The White House today stuck the right note as Israel fights back against the rain of missiles emanating from Gaza, suggesting it is the Palestinians who are causing the violence and that Israel is correct to retaliate.
White House National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Bangkok, where President Obama will begin a five-day trip to Southeast Asia.
What we would like to see is those nations like Egypt and Turkey, that maintain relations with Hamas, to help bring this to a conclusion to bring an end to the rocket fire that we’ve seen out of Gaza, and to allow for a de-escalation in the conflict, generally . . .
I think what we want is the same thing the Israelis want, which is an end to the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. And if that can be accomplished through de-escalation, that would obviously be a positive step forward.
We believe that the precipitating factor for the conflict was the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We believe that Israel has a right to defend itself, and they’ll make their own decisions about the tactics that they use in that regard.
However, I think we have a shared view that if you could have a de-escalation that brings an end to this violence that would be a positive outcome. We just believe that that has to include putting an end to the rocket fire that has terrorized far too much of the Israeli population for far too long.
It’s reassuring to see Obama taking an unambiguously supportive stance toward Israel, particularly now that he no longer needs Jewish votes. Obama in the past has struck too “balanced” a tone with respect to our most ally in the region.
Israel is in a fight for its survival. Despite his rocky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama has been on the phone with him nearly every day since the crisis began. The president is off to a good start with his second-term approach to the Middle East.