Israel has rejected international calls to suspend its air offensive against Hamas targets in Gaza. A French proposal for a 48-hour pause in the violence was dismissed Wednesday. Sallai Meridor, Israel's ambassador to Washington, says Israel wants a more durable and sustainable solution to the situation in Gaza.
"We are, as you know, for peace and for calm, and the ones who started this fire and announced breaking the cease-fire were Hamas. What we are interested in is a durable and sustainable arrangement where no rockets are being fired at Israel and no terrorist buildup is being made under the cover of calm," Meridor tells Steve Inskeep.
"What we are interested for is something that would be durable and sustainable, something that would not be used by the terrorists in order to extend their range and their deadly capacity, something that will not put now close to a million Israelis under a daily threat."
Though independent Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti told NPR that Israel broke the cease-fire, Meridor says Hamas itself announced on Dec. 19 that it was terminating the cease-fire.
"There is not any question here about who put an end to the cease-fire and, after having said that and before Israel had to defend itself, launched 400 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel, refused to listen to our call, to our prime minister appeal to the Palestinians in Gaza not to continue firing at Israelis," he says.
"So the question of who was violating this calm arrangement and who was launching rockets is very clear. The sole responsibility lies with Hamas, and what we are looking for is really a situation where Israelis can live with no daily fear and without being attacked."