Barack Obama heaped praise on Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire plan and offered increased US funding to beef up Israel’s air defence batteries.
The White House, in an unusual twist, highlighted that Netanyahu had followed Obama’s advice, which was to accept the ceasefire deal.
The statement from the White House was couched in extremely supportive terms for Israel, which the Obama administration views as necessary if it is to hold out hopes of persuading Netanyahu further down the line to engage in broader peace negotiations.
The president spoke to Netanyahu on Wednesday to express US support for Israel and committed the US to providing extra funding for the Iron Dome, a US-Israeli anti-missile defence system that proved largely successful in combating rockets fired from Gaza.
Obama, in spite of wanting to shift the strategic balance of the US from Europe and the Middle East to Asia and the Pacific, may yet use his second presidential term to try to broker a lasting peace settlement.
Welcoming the ceasefire, the White House said: “The president said that the United States would use the opportunity offered by a ceasefire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza.”