US says still working for Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Washington says it remains committed to pressing for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas despite Palestinian terrorists rejecting a short-lived truce and Israel resuming its air campaign against Gaza.

US Secretary of State John Kerry says that he would be willing to return to the region at a moment’s notice if it would help bring the parties to a truce.

But with the Egyptian plan failing to end eight days of cross-border fire, Washington is still seeking a negotiated halt to the deadly attacks which have left at least 194 Palestinians and one Israeli dead.

“We’re going to stay at it. The secretary will remain engaged with the parties,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tells reporters.

“In our view we need to all remember what’s at stake here: we will continue to work for a ceasefire.”

While Psaki stresses that President Barack Obama’s administration’s position remains that Israel has a right to defend itself, she says the goal is de-escalation on both sides.

Psaki adds that while Washington does not engage with Hamas, which the United States has classified as a terrorist organization, “there are countries in the region that are, that we remain engaged with.”

The State Department official also condemns the civilian loss of life in the conflict.

— AFP, Times of Israel staff