By Rebecca Shabad - 07/22/14 11:25 AM EDT
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Tuesday suggested Israel is "overdoing" it in their military ground operations in Gaza.
She said on CNN that it’s difficult to watch innocent Palestinians being killed, and yet, it’s hard to dispute the fact that they’re being used as human shields.
“But the bottom line is, I think that this is hurting Israel’s moral authority. I think it looks as though they’re overdoing, which is why I think there has to be more emphasis on the fact that they have accepted the cease-fire. And then try to figure out who has any influence over Hamas in order to get them to accept a cease-fire,” said Albright, who headed the State Department from 1997 until 2001, which overlapped with the beginning of the Second Intifada.
During the latest conflict, which has now lasted more than two weeks, Israel has accepted both an Egyptian-sponsored cease-fire and one requested by the United Nations. Hamas violated them both by firing either rockets or mortar shells.
More than 600 Palestinians have been killed so far, according to the U.N., and a majority of them have been civilians. Just over two dozen Israelis have died as of Tuesday. Israel officially launched its ground invasion into Gaza on Thursday in an effort to destroy tunnels, built by Hamas, that lead into Israel.
“But the bottom line is the question of proportionality and then trying to figure out what the solution is,” she said. “There has to be a way that Palestine is recognized, that there’s a two-state solution, that the various points that have been put on the table are met. We do care, most of us, about the security of Israel. But they cannot have that security if there is not a two-state solution.”
Albright praised Secretary of State John Kerry for his efforts over the last year in trying to strike a peace agreement, but she said ultimately the parties involved have to have the “political will.” Kerry met in Cairo Tuesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss possible ways to salvage a cease-fire.
While Albright might be slightly more critical of Israel’s offensive, the White House has urged both sides to de-escalate, while emphasizing Israel’s right to defend itself.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday, however, also warned that the rising death toll in Gaza suggests Israel must do more to ensure civilians are not killed.
“What this escalation in violence makes clear is that Israel must take greater steps to meet its own standards for protecting civilians from being killed. And we’ll continue to send that message directly to the Israelis,” he said.