President Barack Obama says the situation in Gaza is "unsustainable" and that a better approach is needed in the Strip.
Obama commented Wednesday after a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting came a week after an Israeli military operation aboard a flotilla trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza left nine men dead.
"We - and I think President Abbas agrees with this - recognize that Israel should not have missiles flying out of Gaza into its territories. And so there should be a means by which we are able to stop the flow of arms that could endanger Israel's security," the president said. "At the same time, we're doing so in a way that allows the people in Gaza to live out their aspirations and their dreams both for themselves and their children...we've already begun some hardheaded discussions with the Israelis in achieving that."
Obama also predicted "real progress" in coming months in US efforts to nudge the Israelis and Palestinians toward direct peace talks, if both sides commit. Obama said both sides want a peaceful solution.
"Both sides have to create an environment, a climate that will be conducive to an actual breakthrough," the president said after meeting Abbas.
More aid to Palestinians
The US president called on Israel to work with all parties to find a solution for Gaza and said the United States is providing $400 million in new aid for the Palestinians.
In remarks made as he met Abbas, Obama urged Israel to curb settlement activity and called on the Palestinians to prevent any actions that could incite confrontation.
Obama was expected to assure Abbas of pressure on Israel to loosen its Gaza blockade and let in more humanitarian supplies. At the same time, he was expected to be careful to avoid further strains between Washington and the Jewish State.
The Palestinian leader planned to urge Obama, who has been more measured in his response to the flotilla raid than the broader international community, to take a tougher line with Israel.
"President Abbas will ask for President Obama's intervention to unconditionally lift the siege on the Gaza Strip because this would be the only way to defuse tension," Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Abbas, told Reuters.
Yitzhak Benhorin, AP and Reuters contributed to the story