US, Britain speak on risks of Israeli ground war

Posted Nov 18, 2012 by Layne Weiss
US President Barack Obama and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday that Israel has every right to defend itself, but warned of the risks that a ground war poses.
PM Netanyahu lays a wreath at Mount Herzl
PM Netanyahu lays a wreath at Mount Herzl
Omer Meiron
The United States and United Kingdom are trying to bring about a diplomatic end to the violence escalating between Israel and Hamas, The Associated Press reports.
"Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory," President Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
"If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that would be preferable," for the people of Gaza and Israel, he said.
The Obama administration has been extremely concerned that if Israel expands the conflict, it will not only hurt Israel, but it may help Hamas, The New York Times reports.
American officials fear that a ground war will further damage Israel's already shaky relationships with Jordan and Egypt.
On Friday, President Obama spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama expressed the US' support for Israel's right to defend itself while also expressing regret over civilian casualties on both sides of the conflict. According to the White House, Obama and Netanyahu also "discussed options for de-escalating the situation."
On Saturday, Netanyahu said Israel was not planning to launch a ground war, but that plans could change if "Hamas escalated its rocket war," The Daily Beast reports.
Britain Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday that Hamas is responsible for initiating the violence and must stop its attacks on Israel, but he also warned that if Israel chooses to escalate the conflict, there will be devastating "diplomatic risks," The Associated Press reports.
"A ground invasion is much more difficult for the international community to sympathize with and support, including the United Kingdom," Mr. Hague said.
On Sunday, Israel launched an airstrike, which it says killed a top Hamas militant, CNN reports.
As the fighting went on, Egypt and France were attempting to broker a cease-fire, and an Israeli special envoy was in Egypt to discuss the situation, the Egyptian government said.
President Obama spoke with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi about the importance of ending or at least "de-escalating" this conflict as soon as possible, The New York Times reports.
US officials such as Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Senate's Armed services committee feel that Egypt hasn't done enough. In an interview on ABC's "This Week" program he called Egypt's response the conflict "pretty weak."
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday. Following the meeting Fabius said, "War can be avoided. War must be avoided," CNN reports.
Sunday's attacks put Israel and Hamas even further apart on reaching a cease-fire despite the international community's attempts to broker one. At the start of Israel's weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said,"The Israeli military is prepared to significantly the operation," The Associated Press reports.
President Obama would still like to see what type of progress can be made within the next 48 hours.
Obama's trip to Asia will also include trips to Myanmar and Cambodia. He will be the first US head of state to travel to Myanmar, Reuters reports. Obama's visit there is planned for Monday.