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White House: Violence needs to stop
UN, EU slam Israeli response to Palestinian rocket attacks as 'disproportionate,' White House calls for return to negotiating table as fighting rages on Israel's southern front

The United States called on Sunday for an end to clashes between Israel and the Palestinians and a resumption of peace negotiations after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks with Israel .

 

"The violence needs to stop and the talks need to resume," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

 

The ongoing IDF operation to counter the incessant rocket barrages against its southern towns has drawn a chorus of international condemnation. The EU, and UN accused Israel of using excessive force in Gaza. The UN Security Council urged Israelis and Palestinians ''to immediately cease all acts of violence.''

 

Turkey and Mauritania both issued individual condemnations. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Israeli offensive is killing ''children and civilians'' and has ''no humanitarian justification.''

Erdogan further said that Israel was rejecting a ''diplomatic'' solution to the dispute.

 

Meanwhile the government of Mauritania, one of the only Arab League nations to have diplomatic ties with Israel, called on the Jewish State to stop the ''bloodbath'' in Gaza, and thousands of protesters took to the streets Sunday.

 

'Collective punishment' slammed

Mauritania is one of only three Arab League nations to allow an Israeli Embassy on its soil, an acknowledgment of Israel that many Mauritanians have taken exception to. Last month, gunmen affiliated with al-Qaeda opened fire on the embassy here, injuring three people.

 

In a statement, the Mauritanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was ''extremely concerned'' by Israel's operation, calling it ''a collective punishment for the Palestinian people.''

 

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected the criticism. ''Nothing will prevent us from continuing operations to protect our citizens,'' he said. ''No one has the moral right to preach to Israel for taking the elementary step of self-defense.''

 

Olmert, commenting on the suspension of talks, said ''attacking Hamas strengthens the chance for peace.''

 

''I'm sure that beyond certain statements, the Palestinian leadership, the one with whom we want to achieve peace, also understands that,'' he said.

 

Over 35 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel on Sunday, with two Qassam rockets landing in Palestinian territory. One Israeli girl was lightly wounded and damage was caused to several buildings. Four IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in combat efforts taking place inside Gaza.

 

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

 


פרסום ראשון: 03.02.08, 20:33
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