For the very last question at President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit press conference Wednesday, Agence French-Presse’s Jerome Cartillier asked the president if he agrees that Israel’s military operation in Gaza has been “justified and proportionate.” While Obama did not give a yes or no answer to that specific question, he did lay out his thoughts on the conflict and how he thinks a peace agreement can be reached.
Obama began be reiterating his support for Israel’s “right to defend itself,” saying that “no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities.” He also stressed that Hamas “acts extraordinary irresponsibly when it is deliberately citing rocket launchers in population centers.”
Without placing explicit blame on one side or the other, Obama said that he has “expressed my distress at what’s happened to innocent civilians, including women and children, during the course of this process.” Short term, he said the rocket attacks from Gaza need to stop, but long term he said it will be important for Israel to help facilitate — or at least not actively work against — “opportunity, jobs and economic growth” for Palestinians.
“I have no sympathy for Hamas,” Obama said. “I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.”
Watch video below, via CNN:
[Photo via screengrab]
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