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US hits back over Israeli criticism of Kerry's Gaza ceasefire initiative

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki: "It’s simply not the way that partners and allies treat each other'
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki at a State Department briefing (AFP)

The Obama administration has struck back at pointed criticism from Israel over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest effort to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

“It’s simply not the way that partners and allies treat each other,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman said on Monday.

Kerry returned on Saturday night from Paris and the Middle East, where the US, Egypt, Turkey and other partners attempted to broker a lasting ceasefire in the run up to Eid, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

The draft proposal for a ceasefire that the US sent to Israel on Friday, and that was rejected the same day, was leaked to the press over the weekend in a move Psaki said “surprised” and “disappointed” the US.

“On a regular basis [there] are people leaking things that are either misinformed or attempting to misinform,” Tony Blinken, President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, told reporters on Monday.

Blinken insisted: "Let me say this about Secretary Kerry. Israel has no better friend, no stronger defender. No one has done more to help Israel achieve a secure and lasting peace."

The document the US presented to Israel was based on an earlier Egyptian initiative to halt the violence, according to Psaki, and was not a formal proposal.  

Susan Rice, Obama’s National Security Advisor, said press Israeli reports criticising Kerry’s efforts have “dismayed” the administration.

“The reality is that John Kerry on behalf of the United States has been working every step of the way with Israel, in support of our shared interests,” she said while addressing the National Jewish Leaders Assembly in Washington.

On Sunday, the White House said Obama made clear the need for an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” during a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But on Monday, Netanyahu said that Israel should be prepared for a “prolonged campaign” in Gaza during a televised speech.

Since 7July, at least 1,137 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge while 53 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died.

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