A cautious White House said Tuesday that it supports a UN Security Council resolution calling for an investigation into Israel's deadly raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, but stopped short of condemning the actions of Israeli forces.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the predawn raid on international waters, which left at least nine people dead, does nothing to change the "trusted relationship" between the US and Israel.
"We are greatly supportive of their security," Gibbs told reporters Tuesday. "That's not going to change."
Palestinians, Arabs and Turkey have all called for stronger condemnation from Washington. So far, Obama has voiced "deep regret" for the lives lost, and a White House statement said he "expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances" surrounding the incident.
Gibbs said the US backs the Security Council's call for "a credible investigation, including international participation."
Gibbs. 'US supportive of Israeli security' (Photo: AP)
Turkey, a US ally and unofficial sponsor of the flotilla, has led criticism of the raid, calling it a "bloody massacre" and demanding that Washington condemn the raid.
Obama hasn't spoken with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the incident, Gibbs said, but expects they will talk in the coming days.
The raid is likely to increase pressure on Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Gibbs said the blockade is meant to keep weapons out of the hands of Hamas, not keep aid from reaching the Palestinian people. The incident, he said, further highlights the need for a comprehensive peace plan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled Tuesday's planned meeting with Obama at the White House Tuesday so he could return to Israel to deal with the incident. Next week's meeting between Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will go on as scheduled, Gibbs said.
Abbas has denounced the raid as a "sinful massacre," but he signaled he would continue the indirect talks.