The United States called Friday on Israel and the Palestinians to pursue talks and said there was no "military solution" to the conflict after a flare-up in violence.
"The Israelis have a right to self-defense. At the same, as we've said many times, we don't ultimately think there is a military solution to this," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
"Our message remains to the Israelis and Palestinians that we need to get the proximity talks going, focus on the substance, move to direct negotiations and ultimately arrive at a settlement that ends the conflict once and for all."
Israel has launched a string of air strikes in the Gaza Strip and threatened wide-scale military action after rocket attacks from the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave.
"We are always concerned that steps taken by other side, legitimate or otherwise, can be misconstrued, can be twisted and ends up causing turbulence that can be an impediment to progress," Crowley said.
UK, France 'concerned'
The recent escalation in Gaza comes at a time when the US Administration presses both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to embark on proximity talks, ahead of direct negotiations on a final status agreement. The Obama Administration apparently fears that a harsh Israeli response to the violence, regardless of whether such response is justified, may undermine the American effort to resume the dialogue.
Friday afternoon, both Britain and France expressed concern over the escalation in Gaza violence in the past week. The British Foreign Office urged both Israel and the Palestinians to show restraint and focus on dialogue, while France called on both sides to behave responsibly and adopt bold steps to restore the calm.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed concern over the escalation in Gaza, telling al-Jazeera television that while he understood Israel's security concerns, the situation must be dealt with in a manner different from air strikes.
When asked about Jerusalem, Ban said the matter would have to be resolved as part of a permanent peace agreement, stressing that "any unilateral step is unacceptable." The UN, he added, views Jerusalem "as occupied territories."
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to the story