Obama Calls for Ceasefire in Ukraine, Worried About Escalation in Gaza

It was time to talk again


President Obama spoke at the White House press briefing room today, discussing the Malaysian Air flight downed over Ukraine, saying one American was confirmed to have been on the flight, and Israel's military operations in Gaza.

The president called for an "immediate" ceasefire by pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, saying, via The Washington Post:

I think it's very important for us to make sure that we don't get out ahead of the facts. And at this point, in terms of identifying specifically what individual or group of individuals or, you know, personnel ordered the—the strike, how it came about, those are things that I think are still going to be subject to additional information that we're going to be gathering. And we're working with the entire international community to make sure that the focus is on getting to the bottom of this thing and being truthful. And my concern is obviously that there's been a lot of misinformation generated in eastern Ukraine generally. This should snap everybody's heads to attention and make sure that we don't have time for propaganda, we don't have time for games, we need to know exactly what happened, and everybody needs to make sure that we're holding accountable those who—who committed this outrage.

On Israel, the president said he spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "reaffirm" his "strong support for Israel's right to defend itself" before adding:

I also made clear that the United States and our friends and allies are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life. And that's why we've indicated although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels.

And we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and that all of us are working hard to return to the cease-fire that was reached in November of 2012. Secretary Kerry is working to support Egypt's initiative to pursue that outcome. I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that John is prepared to travel to the region following additional consultations.