White House Urges Restraint in Gaza

By David McKeeby
USINFO White House Correspondent

Washington - Factional fighting in Gaza between Hamas and security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party shows the challenges in creating a Palestinian state, says White House spokesman Tony Snow.

"Violence certainly does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people," Snow said at a June 13 news briefing. "It's not going to bring the peace and prosperity that they deserve."

Snow's comments came as the Hamas armed wing tightened its control over northern Gaza by seizing a major Fatah base and control of area roadways. (See related article.)

The fighting, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack in a separate briefing June 13, shows deep divisions within Hamas between the group’s political wing, led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who has been seeking political reconciliation with Fatah, and the organization’s military wing.

“I think if you look at any analysis of what happened, it is the military wing of Hamas that has decided … that they are going to try to derail any sort of political reconciliation among the Palestinian people and within the Palestinian leadership, as well as between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said.

At least 70 people have been killed in the latest wave of violence since June 7, including two Palestinian protesters who were among the estimated 1,000 area residents who marched in Gaza City to urge an end to the violence.

Snow said that the United States remains concerned about the conflict and its impact on the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions both in Gaza and the West Bank, but remains committed to continuing its deliveries of humanitarian aid to families in need.

"We are certainly taking careful note of what's going on and again make the point that the violence is not something that is helping the Palestinian people,” Snow said.

For more information, see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.