Israelis breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton started her visit to the country by placing the blame for the lack of progress in the peace process not on Israeli settlements and security measures, but on Hamas.
The region needs a durable peace, "but that can only be achieved if Hamas ceases the rocket attacks," Clinton told a press conference following her meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Terrorists operating out of Hamas-ruled Gaza have fired more than 120 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel since the end of the recent Gaza war over a month ago.
Israelis had feared that Clinton came bearing a harsh message from US President Barack Obama that he expected rapid progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state, while brushing aside ongoing and often escalating security concerns.
Clinton did stress Washington's continued belief that there is no other acceptable conclusion to the conflict than the birth of a Palestinian Arab state. But she was careful to precondition that outcome on Palestinian compliance with previous peace agreements.
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