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US Clarifies Stance on Israel/Hamas Conflict, Egypt’s Role

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland reiterated at Friday’s briefing the United States' position that Israel has the right to defend itself, but that the U.S. also wants to see an end to Mideast violence as soon as possible.

Nuland also stated that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Egypt’s Foreign Minister for the second  time this week, in response to the Egyptian Prime Minister’s visit to Gaza Friday.

“Prime Minister Kandil was in Gaza today, so it was an opportunity to get an update on that visit and to get a sense from the Egyptians, in the wake of the visit, what further steps any of us can take to help a de-escalation,” said Nuland.

But the prime minister and the Egyptian government have publicly said the visit was to show Egypt’s solidarity with Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization. Kandil said Friday that the world should take action against Israel, characterizing the country as the “aggressors” in the conflict.

Despite the fact that Egypt’s rhetoric reflects the exact opposite opinion of the United States, Nuland insisted that all the parties are on the same page.

“I don't think anybody's happy with the current situation and the loss of innocent life on both sides. So it's a matter of the international community and particularly regional states with influence to do what they can to make clear to Hamas that this is not benefiting the cause of the Palestinian people, and it's certainly not benefiting the cause of regional stability,” said Nuland.

Nuland said that despite his fiery rhetoric, the United States views the prime minister’s visit to Gaza as being positive, and that Egypt continues to play a key role in being able to influence Hamas in order to keep the conflict from growing.

“We are encouraging Egypt to use its influence on Hamas. Egypt made the decision that it would be helpful to send the prime minister to see what he could do. We've been in contact with them before. We've been in contact with them afterwards,” said Nuland who added, “That does not in any way indicate that we endorse the public statements that were made in the context of that visit.”

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