The United States condemned Wednesday’s rocket attack on Israel as “unprovoked aggression,” but said that despite the terror attack, it would continue to work with the new Palestinian government.
“We condemn all rocket fire from Gaza. It is unprovoked aggression against civilian targets and is totally unacceptable,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Early Wednesday morning, a Kassam rocket was fired from terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The rocket exploded in southern Israel, near a major highway. In response to the attack, the Israel Air Force carried out a targeted strike against a Hamas-affiliated Jihadist Wednesday night in Gaza.
Israel stated that it holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the rocket attack, regardless of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s condemnation. In a statement release by his office, Abbas said that Israel should continue to uphold its ceasefire with Hamas and that the Palestinian people should not give Israel an excuse to attack the Gaza Strip.
“President Abbas must do all in his power to prevent deterioration in the security situation,” Psaki said. While the US does “acknowledge the reality that Hamas currently controls Gaza,” Psaki added that since no Hamas affiliated members are part of the Palestinian government, the US will continue to its relationship with the PA.
“We made a decision as the United States government that our assistance to the Palestinian Authority is important to the United States,” Psaki told reporters at a briefing.
“While we’re very concerned about these rocket attacks and we feel President Abbas needs to do everything possible to prevent them, we understand that his ability to do that is severely limited at this point in time,” she said.
“We would also note that he has upheld his responsibility to maintain security coordination with Israel and he has publicly stressed his commitment to do that.”
The Obama administration, which was quick to support the new Palestinian government, has led to increased tensions in what is already fragile relationship between the US and Israel. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that the US is committed to supporting Israel, but that commitment comes with strings attached.
“America will always maintain our iron-clad commitment to the security of Israel, ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge and can protect its territory and people,” she told attendees at the annual Center for a New American Security’s conference Wednesday evening.
“Equally, we consistently defend Israel’s legitimacy and security in the UN and other international fora. In turn, we expect Israel to stand and be counted with the US and other partners on core matters of international law and principle, such as Ukraine,” she added.
Top US lawmakers, though, are questioning Obama’s decision in supporting the new Hamas-backed government. Democratic and Republican lawmakers of the US House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee have called on US Secretary of State John Kerry to defend the administrations dealings with a designated terrorist organization.
In letter to Kerry, the subcommittee wrote, “Any decisions to work with this unity government could be extraordinarily counterproductive in our efforts both to promote peace and to help support the security of our ally, Israel.”
Rep. Ileana Rose-Lehtinen (R-FL), co-author of the letter, said the committee is willing and ready to convene a special hearing to investigate whether the Obama administration is violating US law by supporting a terrorist organization. Rose-Lehtinen wrote the 2006 law that bans the US from any contact with terrorist groups.