A top Israeli official wants President Barack Obama to stop meddling with the Jewish state during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel criticized Obama telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there should be an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
“Leave us alone,” Ariel told Army Radio, directing his words at Obama. “Go focus on Syria.”
Obama spoke with Netanyahu Sunday about the rising number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza and the worsening humanitarian crisis.
“Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the White House said in a statement, adding that the president reiterated that Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks from Hamas.
Ariel told Army Radio that Israel’s offensive should be more aggressive.
“It was obvious that international pressure would mount eventually,” Ariel stated. “We should have acted faster, harder and with more determination. The rocket threat needs to be tackled. The tunnel threat is being addressed, but it is not enough.”
Ariel claimed that the pressure from the White House for an immediate ceasefire was “outrageous” and would “help Hamas,” according to Breitbart News.
“[W]e never thought it would be the Americans who would lead the pressure,” Ariel told Army Radio.
The Obama administration pushed back Monday against a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.
“It’s simply not the way partners and allies treat each other,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Her comments were echoed by the White House, where officials said they were disappointed by Israeli reports that cast Kerry’s efforts to negotiate a cease-fire as more favorable to Hamas.
Israel had accepted an Egyptian call for an unconditional cease-fire early in its Gaza campaign, but Hamas rejected the idea.
Netanyahu said Monday that Israel won’t end its offensive until Hamas’ network of tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border has been neutralized. “We need to be ready for a prolonged campaign,” he said. “We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers and children.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded defiantly. “His threats do not scare Hamas or the Palestinian people, and the occupation will pay the price for the massacres against civilians and children,” he said.
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SOURCE: CBS News/CBSDC/AP