Rice Criticizes Hamas But Says U.S. Is Working Toward Cease-Fire

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had choice words for Hamas at the same time she said that the United States is working toward a cease-fire in Gaza.

During a news conference Thursday, Rice said that the United States is "very concerned" about the situation in the Middle East, in which Israeli air forces have bombed Hamas targets in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. But she criticized Hamas's attacks and its opposition to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"I want to begin by noting that Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage every since their illegal coup against the forces of President Mahmoud Abbas, the legitimate president of the Palestinian people," she said. "The Hamas has used Gaza as a launching pad for rockets against Israeli cities and has contributed deeply to a very bad daily life for the Palestinian people in Gaza and to a humanitarian situation that we have all been trying to address -- but, frankly, Hamas has made it very difficult for the people of Gaza to have a reasonable life."

She said it was "obvious" a cease-fire should take place as soon as possible, but that it should be "durable and sustainable."

"We are working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante, where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza," she said.

Rice said she has no plans to go to the Middle East.

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