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Interview with Mark Regev, Spokesman for the Prime Minister of Israel; Interview with Ambassador Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Permanent Observer to the United Nations; Interview with Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary
Aired August 1, 2014 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It is Friday, August 8th -- August 1st, 8:00 in the East.
We're following breaking news developments in the Middle East all morning. Let's bring you up to date on where things stand right now.
The cease-fire is over. The fighting is raging on and an Israeli soldier has been abducted by militants after a suicide bomb attack. That according to the Israeli military.
The Israeli military says a bomber targeted a group of Israeli soldiers who were dismantling one of the tunnels stretching into southern Israel, which was allowed as part of the cease-fire, that is according to Secretary of State John Kerry. The bomber emerged from the tunnel in southern Gaza before detonating himself and other militants took the soldier captive.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Israel then responded with a vengeance, shelling southern Gaza, dozens were killed, hundreds more wounded in the latest reports. For their part, a Hamas spokesman says he could not confirm whether a soldier was captured, showing a divide within that organization, such as it is.
The U.N. also weighing in, saying if corroborated, the suicide attack and capture of an Israeli soldier would be condemned in the strongest terms. We don't know what that would mean.
But this is for sure, peace talks that were supposed to be held in Cairo as part of a cease-fire, those still happening -- that looks unclear at best.
Let's get a sense of what's happening on the ground with Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem.
You heard what I'm saying there, Wolf. We're trying to keep a little optimism here but the chance that there are peace talks when there is no peace on the ground highly unlikely.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that does not look likely at all. We're just getting another statement, Chris and Kate, from the IDF, from the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF now confirms the name of the officer who is suspected to have
been kidnapped by terrorists earlier this morning, Second Lieutenant Hadar Golden (ph), 23-year-old from Kvar Sava, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Additionally, two IDF soldiers were killed in the attack. The soldiers' families have been notified.
So, they now know, they have the name of the Israeli soldier taken by Hamas, Second Lieutenant Hadar Golden, 23 years old from Kvar Sava, outside of Tel Aviv.
Mark Regev is the spokesman for the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. You're joining us once again.
You have a time line of what happened, the cease-fire that Secretary Kerry, Ban Ki-moon put into place, supposed to go into effect 8:00 a.m. local time. That's 1:00 a.m. on the East Coast of the United States, 8:00 a.m. local time.
It starts OK, then what happens?
MARK REGEV, SPOKESMAN, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, our forces are honoring that cease-fire proposal, and as Secretary Kerry said, and secretary-general of the United Nations, they had received assurances that the cease-fire would be honored, not just by Israel but by Hamas as well. And our forces were doing what is allowed to do in the framework of the cease-fire. They were not attacking. They were standing there and dealing with the issue of the tunnels, which is allowed under the cease-fire.
At 9:30, one and a half hours into the cease-fire, our forces honoring that cease-fire, they were attacked with brutal fire, deadly fire, two of our servicemen unfortunately were killed, and one apparently has been kidnapped.
Since then, Hamas has rained down mortar shells across the frontier and rockets into southern Israel.
And what must be clear here is Hamas has not only violated assurances that it gave to the international community, to the United States, to the United Nations, it violated those commitments, it's also shown something much more damning. It's shown that it doesn't care about the people of Gaza, because this 72-hour cease-fire was designed to allow for humanitarian relief to reach the people of Gaza and Hamas, not only has killed Israelis, not only apparently has kidnapped an Israeli officer, not only thrown away the chance for a cease-fire but Hamas has prevented the people of Gaza from receiving their humanitarian relief, that they so badly need.
And I want to be clear, all the people in the international community who have been speaking about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, they now have to point their direction at Hamas. Hamas is accountable for the continuing humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is accountable for the fact that the fighting continues, that the violence continues, and Hamas is accountable that the people of Gaza continue to suffer from this conflict. BLITZER: What was Israel -- Israeli troops doing in the tunnel at
that time? Because there's question what Israel was allowed to do during the cease-fire offensively, defensively, not allowed to do?
REGEV: It was clear and I think you've got Secretary Kerry on tape saying that, that in the framework of the cease-fire, we would halt all offensive operations against Hamas targets, against terrorist targets in Gaza. We would stay in place. We would defend ourselves if attacked, and we could deal with a network of aggressive terror tunnels under the border, which ultimately are used for terrorists coming to Israel to kill people, murder and cause mayhem.
We were totally honoring those commitments given to the United Nations, and to the United States. Hamas unfortunately did not, and Hamas has to be held accountable.
BLITZER: So, you were -- the IDF troops were in a tunnel or near a tunnel, trying to destroy the tunnel, decommission it, as the U.N. calls it, and then what happened? Walk us through the process.
REGEV: They were attacked. There was a surprise attack by Hamas in violation of the cease-fire understandings and a firefight between our forces and Hamas terrorists, we were protecting ourselves. The time is very important here.
One and a half hours after the cease-fire commenced. That means everyone knew, everyone knew that there was supposed to be a cessation of combat operations in the Gaza Strip, and our soldiers were functioning as if a cease-fire was in place with orders only to protect themselves.
BLITZER: Here is the question, did Hamas, the military arm of Hamas know that Israel under what Kerry announced, John Kerry, the secretary of state was allowed to decommission or destroy tunnels during the cease-fire? In other words could there have been some confusion, they saw Israeli military action dealing with the tunnels, they didn't know that that was allowed under the cease-fire terms?
REGEV: I don't believe there was any confusion. I believe there was a deliberate breaking of a cease-fire, deliberate violence of a cease- fire. Secretary Kerry said so publicly he spoke about the tunnels, both the United States and the United Nations received assurances from Hamas, but it's apparent I think to everyone now that assurances by Hamas are not worth anything.
It's also important to say, Wolf, this is not the first time Hamas has violated a cease-fire and has destroyed the chance of a cease-fire kicking in. We saw that two weeks ago with the Cairo proposals, where Israel held its fire and Hamas continued to fire, we've seen that with four or five humanitarian cease-fires since then where Israel accepted them and Hamas either rejected or violated them.
So, you see a consistent pattern of behavior by Hamas, once again these cease-fires are in place to give humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza, but apparently, Hamas doesn't give a hoot for the people of Gaza. BLITZER: So the negotiation in Cairo that was supposed to begin
today, Palestinian delegation and Israeli delegation, all that is off.
REGEV: The cease-fire is off. The cease-fire was killed by Hamas.
BLITZER: So that means no more talks going on in Cairo, no more efforts to see if they can revive it -- everybody just throws up their hands now and say, it's over, the fighting is just going to go on?
REGEV: Our goal is to achieve peace and quiet for the people of Israel, and end to the rocket fire and end to the terrorist tunnels. That can be achieved militarily, or diplomatically or a combination of both. So far Hamas has closed the door, slammed the door shut on any sort of diplomatic solution.
BLITZER: So, on the ground right now is an Israeli soldier being held by Hamas. You've identified his name, Second Lieutenant Hadar Golden, 23 years old from a suburb of Tel Aviv. He's being held right now.
Last time Hamas had an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Israel immediately reacted and pounded various positions in Gaza. They didn't succeed in their operation, because he was held for five years, eventually traded for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
But at that time, you remember what happened. Israel blew up that power station. It really wanted to punish Palestinians because one soldier was being held.
Do you anticipate that happening now as well?
REGEV: I expect Israel to continue to act energetically against Hamas, against those terror targets in Gaza, those targets are a threat to our people. They're shooting the rockets into Israel and yesterday we had more than 100 rockets.
Today, they violated the cease-fire. We've seen more rockets into Israel. We will do what needs to be done to protect our people.
BLITZER: Is the prime minister and his security cabinet in an emergency session at the defense ministry right now?
REGEV: I can tell you of course the prime minister is in special security briefings. He's up on the situation. He's in command and we will do what needs to be done to protect our people.
BLITZER: But it's escalating clearly. I call this a game changer, do you agree?
REGEV: I think there's no doubt what Hamas has done today not only undermined the chances of a humanitarian cease-fire, Hamas through a deliberate decision has unfortunately led to a very dangerous escalation.
BLITZER: All right. Let's see what happens. Mark Regev, spokesman for the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Guys back to you in New York. Let's see what happens on the ground. I know we're going to check in with Karl Penhaul, he's in Gaza.
But I suspect the IDF, the Israeli military, they're going to go searching for this second lieutenant, see if they can find him, but it's going to be pretty brutal out there in the coming hours.
BOLDUAN: In the coming hours, those are going to be very important as the spokesman for the prime minister said, a very dangerous escalation from the Israeli view.
Wolf, thanks so much. Stick with us now.
Now, let's get the Palestinian perspective on these talks and everything that has happened this morning.
Ambassador Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian permanent observer to the United Nations, is joining me now.
Mr. Ambassador, it's good to see you again. Thank you very much for coming in.
RIYAD MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN PERMANENT OBSERVER TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you for having me.
BOLDUAN: So, you've heard very clearly from Mark Regev right there, cease-fire is over from the Israeli perspective.
From the Palestinian Authority, what's the view?
MANSOUR: Well, first of all, you know that it's the Israeli side now that is declaring that the cease-fire is over. We are ready and willing, you know, to commit ourselves to the 72-hour cease-fire and by we, it means all Palestinian components under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas.
BOLDUAN: How can you be --
MANSOUR: And we are ready to begin the negotiations in Cairo through the Egyptians with the Israeli side to bring the cease-fire to last for a longer period of time to allow for attending to the horrific situation in the Gaza Strip, and I believe that the Israeli side was compelled to accept the humanitarian 72-hour cease-fire after yesterday in the Security Council, there were very vivid reports from distinguished personalities, Ms. Amos, and the commissioner-general in which they gave details of this situation of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and it was not justified by any means in which around --
BOLDUAN: We've got to figure out what happened this morning.
MANSOUR: That's why they accepted the cease-fire.
BOLDUAN: We have to talk about what's happening this morning in terms of an Israeli soldier has been captured by Hamas militants. You say that the Palestinian Authority is still open to a cease-fire and ready to start those talks. How is that at all even possible if this has happened in southern Gaza? An Israeli soldier captured by Hamas militants. There is no cease-fire if that's the case, Mr. Ambassador.
MANSOUR: Well, I don't know the details. I'm not the military man but let's assume that --
BOLDUAN: But the United Nations came out this morning to condemn in the strongest terms that this has happened.
MANSOUR: It condemned that the cease-fire was broken and you heard the Israeli side, they're saying that the IDF declared and the Israeli government, there is no cease-fire. It was not our side that declared --
BOLDUAN: Do you condemn this happened?
MANSOUR: Condemn what?
BOLDUAN: That an Israeli soldier during the hours of this cease-fire has been captured by Hamas militants?
MANSOUR: If the Israeli soldiers were moving away from their side to the Palestinian side and engaging in military operation with guerrillas, then this is, you know, confrontation, and in in confrontation, they kill Palestinian soldiers, do you condemn killing Palestinian militants? This is a military operation.
BOLDUAN: Well, that gets to an important point, because Secretary John Kerry, when this cease-fire was announced, he said very clearly, "During this cease-fire, Israel will be able to continue its defensive operations for tunnels behind its lines."
BOLDUAN: They were going into the tunnel, according to all of these reports, to continue doing what they have doing, clearing these tunnels.
MANSOUR: But do you know for sure that Israeli soldiers were not moving through the tunnels in the area that is in the Palestinian side, not behind their lines? Do you know that?
BOLDUAN: All of the reports we have is that there was a Hamas militant report with a suicide vest on.
MANSOUR: These are Israeli reports. Do we know for sure.
BOLDUAN: A suicide vest.
MANSOUR: This is Israeli reports.
BOLDUAN: So you're questioning if this is even happened?
MANSOUR: No, what I'm saying that obviously there was a military confrontation. But if a tunnel is in this side and Israel is here, and the continuation of the tunnel is in your side, how do we know the Israeli soldier did not cross in the Palestinian side? How do we know that? BOLDUAN: You do not think this was a choreographed attempt by Hamas
to score a victory of some sort? This man -- the reports are that there was a Hamas militant with a suicide vest on that detonated.
MANSOUR: That is the Israeli story.
BOLDUAN: That is coming to us from the ground sources.
MANSOUR: Your reporter was in the tunnel and he was in that military operation?
What I'm trying to say, let's not concentrate on this thing. We need to have a cease-fire. We are ready and willing to honor the 72-hour cease-fire. We are ready and willing to negotiate in Cairo. We want to put an end to this tragedy.
It is the Israeli side that caused this massive humanitarian tragedy against 1.8 million Palestinian civilians. It is in our interest to stop the fighting now. It is in our interest to attend to our wounds, to bury our dead, as secretary of state indicated, to get food, to go and visit our homes. It is in our interest.
So, it is because of these things we are ready and willing to honor the cease-fire and to begin the negotiations in Cairo.
BOLDUAN: It's one thing to hear it from the Palestinian Authority, ready and willing to honor the cease-fire but it doesn't at least at this moment does not sound like the military wing of Hamas is listening to any of those words.
MANSOUR: It is the Israeli army that declared that the cease-fire is over. It is not our side that is saying the cease-fire is over.
BOLDUAN: You do not think that a soldier captured when a cease-fire has been put into place is a violation of a cease-fire?
MANSOUR: When you have a military confrontation in that zone and we don't know the details who crossed which line, and there is fighting between the two sides, and they killed some of the Palestinians, and when there is confrontation, and then through this confrontation there are soldiers killed from both sides and the Palestinian side captured one Israeli soldier, these things do happen in wars.
BOLDUAN: Palestinian Authority did accept that element of the cease- fire and you agree that it was part of the cease-fire that Israel could continue its operations, its defensive operations in clearing tunnels?
MANSOUR: Behind their lines, behind their lines.
BOLDUAN: But you agree that was part of the cease-fire?
MANSOUR: I know exactly what was agreed to, and we accepted that, that cease-fire in place, and I know what it means, the cease-fire in place. BOLDUAN: Mr. Ambassador, what happens now? I know you say that you
are ready, that Palestinian Authority is ready to continue these talks and ready to go to Cairo. How is that even possible? Are you still sending a delegation to Cairo?
MANSOUR: Yes, first of all I just want to correct, it is not the Palestinian Authority. It is the Palestinian national consensus government of President Mahmoud Abbas of the state of Palestine. We are ready.
BOLDUAN: Do you still believe that all of the factions are still on the same page within the Palestinian --
BOLDUAN: -- side?
MANSOUR: Yes. And we are ready to dispatch, if we did not already dispatch our unified delegation to be in Cairo to negotiate the details of an extended cease-fire and also to begin a political process to address the root causes of this conflict, because we do want to put an end to this tragedy in the Gaza Strip, and we want to put an end to the tragedy of the Palestinian people by ending occupation and allowing for the independence of the state of Palestine, where we can have two states living side by side in peace and security.
BOLDUAN: What can the Palestinian Authority do? What can the Palestinian side do to get this soldier free so the peace talks can continue?
MANSOUR: Well, there are thousands of Palestinian prisoners on the Israeli side. Are they ready and willing to release them, including they are capturing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and arresting them and taking them to Israel.
BOLDUAN: So, you're already saying there has to be a swap in order for this prisoner to be released?
MANSOUR: I'm not saying -- I'm not involved in details of such kind but what I'm saying if you have --
BOLDUAN: It seems to be the most important issue this morning why the cease-fire came to an end. Do you not agree?
MANSOUR: What, the confrontation?
MANSOUR: But we don't know the details who started this confrontation and therefore they should be responsible for the results of this confrontation.
BOLDUAN: Do you believe that Hamas militants went into this in good faith and did want a cease-fire? MANSOUR: I believe that all Palestinian groups, including Hamas
accepted the cease-fire, ready and willing to negotiate in Cairo, and I believe we are ready and willing to continue that process and I hope that secretary of state and the secretary-general of the U.N. would call for the implementation of this 72-hour cease-fire, so that we can get to the business of negotiations in Cairo.
BOLDUAN: I think an important point at this moment is as a political wing and the military wing of Hamas, are they on the same page? Is the political wing of Hamas even relevant at this point?
MANSOUR: Both are on the same page, and I believe that all of them are, you know --
BOLDUAN: How is it then this morning that the spokesman for the political wing of Hamas had no idea, it gave us no suggestion that anything was under way in terms of capture of an Israeli soldier?
MANSOUR: He did not know the details as me, I don't know the details of exactly what happened. I just listen only to the Israeli side of this confrontation and the Israelis are trying to frame it that Hamas broke the cease-fire and Israel were doing legitimate things and trying to show there was, the details of what they were saying about this operation. And then, therefore, they want to say that Hamas is responsible for breaking the cease-fire, Hamas is responsible for the tragedy of our people in Gaza.
Those who are responsible for the tragedy of our people in Gaza is the Israeli armed forces. They are the ones who are killing us. They are the ones who are injuring the Palestinians, displacing them, attacking UNRWA schools and so forth. They are attacking the hospitals.
So, therefore, to try to flip the story that Hamas is responsible for that is so upsetting.
BOLDUAN: A final very important point from you. Do you still believe there is hope that this cease-fire could be revived?
MANSOUR: I believe so. If there is a will, in order to have a cease- fire in place, and to allow our people to attend to their wounds and to their tragedy, there will be a way in order to implement it. We are ready and willing. President Mahmoud Abbas is ready and willing on behalf of all Palestinian components to have this cease-fire in place, to begin the negotiations in Cairo, and to move forward.
And let me just say one last thing.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
MANSOUR: The spokesperson of Israel said we cannot trust Hamas. It was his government that negotiated with Hamas a cease-fire in the year 2012, and it was in place for two years, so then he says now that we cannot trust Hamas.
They trusted Hamas for two years. But now, we are saying that we have national consensus government under the leadership of President Abbas in which all of them are under his command and if they were trusting Hamas alone for two years from 2012 until 2014, why don't they trust the national consensus government to have this cease-fire in place and to begin the political negotiations in Cairo.
BOLDUAN: The hours to come are definitely probably some of the most important and very uncertain where things go from here.
Ambassador Mansour, thank you very for coming in. Thank you for your time.
MANSOUR: Thank you for having me.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
MANSOUR: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Chris, over to you.
CUOMO: Very good look at how two different sides have very different stories of the current situation.
Let's bring in the third side here, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary.
Josh, thank you for joining us this morning. A lot on your plate.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good morning, Chris.
CUOMO: The obvious question, now what?
EARNEST: Well, Chris, as you know, President Obama and Secretary Kerry have been working closely with U.N. officials, with Israeli officials, Palestinian officials, and other interested parties to try to bring about a humanitarian cease-fire that was dogged, diplomatic work that was required. We finally thought we had reached an agreement just yesterday for a humanitarian cease-fire.
The Israelis, of course, are reporting this morning that that cease- fire was broken, and that apparently Hamas individuals used the cover of a humanitarian cease-fire to attack Israeli soldiers and even to take one hostage.
That would be a rather barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement. We would encourage the international community to respond to this and condemn it in the strongest possible terms, and we would encourage those who have influence with Hamas to get them back on to the terms of a cease-fire and to get them to abide by the agreements that they struck just yesterday.
CUOMO: Well, the Ambassador Mansour, who is just on the show talking to Kate, obviously the representative of Mahmoud Abbas, said they are not ready to take ownership of the capture of that soldier, that they don't know what happened, so that then takes us one step back to why this may have happened.
Do you feel that the U.S. may have somehow missed on its efforts to get everybody on the same page here? Because Mansour was saying Israel could keep clearing tunnels but only behind lines on their side. Then we had the spokesperson for the political wing of Hamas say I didn't know anything about Israel being allowed to do defensive maneuvers.
Did the U.S. somehow fail to communicate the terms of this cease-fire properly?
EARNEST: Chris, what you saw is you saw President Obama, Secretary Kerry take a leadership role working closely with the U.N., with the Israelis, with the Palestinians to bring everybody to the table to work out a painstakingly detailed agreement to strike a 72-hour cease- fire for humanitarian reasons, to give those in Gaza who have been under siege for a long time the opportunity to emerge from the places where they're hiding to try and care for their families and in some cases bury the dead.
This would also provide some relief to Israeli citizens who have faced a barrage of rocket fire from Hamas. It would also create an opportunity for both sides and other interested parties to convened in Cairo, to try to work an agreement.
It is not in the interests for this kind of violence to be sustained. It's not in the interest -- the long-term interests for either side of the conflict for innocent civilians to continue to be in harm's way. So, this administration has worked in painstaking fashion with the Israelis. In fact, Secretary Kerry was on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning already to talk about next steps here.
But we remain very concerned about these reports of a rather barbaric violation of a humanitarian cease-fire agreement.
CUOMO: And you don't think this was a function of how the terms were communicated from the State Department or from the White House to the different parties involved?
EARNEST: No, Chris. We have been over the last several months trying to work through the kinds -- over the last several weeks -- trying to work through cease-fire agreements. The devil is always in the details of these kinds of agreements. Everybody understands that you have to look very carefully at the details to which you are agreeing.
So, there is no, while complicated, we were transparent and everybody, all sides were transparent about what the agreement was, and certainly, Hamas, according to these reports, is entirely responsible for upholding their end of the bargain and it's apparent that they did not do that.
CUOMO: Do you think you were able to get all the right people at the table? Again, we just had the representative of Mahmoud Abbas here. He is supposedly the president of the coalition government there. It seems that certainly there are at least independent operatives on the ground, whether it's Fatah or the jihad or Islamist jihad organization or the military wing of Hamas.
Do you believe that right now you don't have enough sense of who's in control on that side of the conflict to negotiate anything?
EARNEST: Well, Chris, these questions about the command and control structure of Hamas had been raised before. The fact of the matter is, we are dealing with both the Palestinian political leadership, but also other regional partners that have influence over the military wing of Hamas.
So, we do have a wide variety of voices at the table to make sure that everybody understands what everybody's agreeing to.
And the fact of the matter is, there was a humanitarian cease-fire that was in place, that would have allowed the citizens of Gaza, who have been caught in the cross-fire to emerge from their hiding places, to meet the needs of their families, to bury their dead in some cases, and to also provide an opportunity for Israeli citizens who have also been living under the constant threat of rocket-fire from Hamas to also sort of take a deep breath here.
And it is rather unfortunate to say the least that somebody would use the cover of a humanitarian cease-fire to barbarically violate that cease-fire agreement, attack Israeli soldiers and even to take one hostage.
CUOMO: So, right now, you know while it's more complicated on the Gaza side, the Hamas side if you want to call it that, the Palestinian side of what they want, you have a sole criterion on the Israeli side of what it will take to even contemplate a future cease-fire or any type of negotiation, that's the return of their soldier, if one has been abducted, which seems to be the case from reporting on both sides.
Is the U.S. ready to call for that, to say return this soldier right now or we cannot help you?
EARNEST: Well, there is no question that Hamas should return the soldier that they have taken hostage. That is unconditional and something that should happen immediately.
CUOMO: No trade, no exchange, no barter, because we know where that leads, we know what happened last time, it leads to a lot of pain especially on the Palestinian side. Will the U.S. be forceful on this?
EARNEST: Let me say, Chris, in no uncertain terms that soldier who has been taken hostage should be returned immediately, and we are going to be in touch -- Secretary Kerry has already been in touch with the Israeli prime minister to talk to him about next steps in this process. We certainly will be working with our partners and with the U.N. and other interested parties who have been a part of trying to broker this agreement about what the next steps are.
But there should be no mistake that the Israeli soldier who has reportedly been taken captive should be returned unharmed and immediately.
CUOMO: Josh, let me bring in Wolf Blitzer obviously. He's in Jerusalem. He's go such intense knowledge of what's going on, on the ground there, and see what questions he has for you.
EARNEST: Good morning, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Chris.
Good morning, Josh.
Did I hear you correctly -- did you say that President Obama has already been on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning?
EARNEST: I said that Secretary Kerry from India has been on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu already this morning, to discuss next steps and you know, obviously we have -- this is something that Secretary Kerry personally has been very involved with over the last several weeks. He's had many, many conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Obama has had a couple of them as well.
But this is an open line of communication that has been used very frequently to try to reach this agreement, and that was used again this morning.
BLITZER: So what was the message that Secretary Kerry gave to Prime Minister Netanyahu in moving forward right now? Is it over with? Is the fighting going to continue? Can the humanitarian cease-fire be resumed? Is there any hope right now?
EARNEST: Well, Wolf, that telephone call was placed at the earliest reports that this cease-fire had been broken, and this was primarily an opportunity for Secretary Kerry in the midst of fast-moving news reports to confer directly with the Israeli prime minister about what exactly had happened.
In terms of next steps, we do and will continue to be in close touch with the Israelis, but also with others who are a party to this agreement, the United Nations, certainly, the Palestinian political leadership and the other regional partners to this agreement about what the next steps could possibly be.
But again, Wolf, this is a blatant, barbaric violation of a cease-fire agreement and for someone to use a humanitarian cease-fire agreement, that is clearly in the humanitarian interests of innocent civilians on both sides, in order to carry out an attack is a terrible thing, is worthy of the strongest condemnation from the United States, and it certainly deserves the strong condemnation of the international community.