Category: World / November 20, 2012 7:22 PM EST
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday (November 20) that Israel is prepared to escalate its Gaza Strip offensive but would prefer a long-term diplomatic solution to the threat of rockets from the Palestinian enclave.
"If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem with diplomatic means, we prefer that. But if not, I'm sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said alongside visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton signaled that a Gaza truce could take days to achieve after Hamas, the Palestinian enclave's ruling Islamist militants, backed away from an assurance that it and Israel would stop exchanging fire within hours.
"In the days ahead the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region toward an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region," Clinton said in Jerusalem.
She spoke after Hamas said an Egyptian-brokered truce deal that it had expected to be in place by Tuesday night was delayed because Israel has not responded to proposals.
Clinton will travel to Cairo on Wednesday.