President Barack Obama Sunday strongly backed Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks by the Hamas, but said everyone should want a decrease in the violence that has erupted in the region for days.
“There is no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on from outside its borders,” Obama said Sunday in his first public comments on the fighting. “We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend its borders.”
He made the remarks during a joint news conference with the prime minister of Thailand as he opened a four-day tour of Southeast Asia.
"If we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza, then the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future," Obama said.
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In recent days, Obama has spoken to leaders in Egypt and Turkey, urging them to engage Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group, and bring an end to the rocket fire that has occurred in both the Gaza Strip and southern Israel for several days. Israel began targeting Hamas government and media buildings after an attack on Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted at a ground invasion, though there were no new indications Sunday. White House officials have said Israel has not asked for specific assistance, though the U.S. did help fund the Iron Dome, which has successfully halted some rockets that have been fired out of Gaza.