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(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Monday night welcomed Egypt’s ceasefire proposal to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas militants, saying he hopes it can, “restore the calm that we’ve been seeking.”

“I believe further escalation benefits no one, least of all the Israeli and the Palestinian people,” the president said at a White House Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan. “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to facilitate a return to the 2012 ceasefire. We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish this goal, which we hope can restore the calm that we’ve been seeking.”

The president described the pictures coming out of Gaza as “heart wrenching” but reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself.

“I will say very clearly, no country can accept rockets fired indiscriminately at citizens,”Obama said. “And so we’ve been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas.”

“At the same time, on top of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that we’ve worked long and hard to alleviate, the death and injury of Palestinian civilians is a tragedy, which is why we’ve emphasized the need to protect civilians, regardless of who they are or where they live,” he said.

The president concluded his brief remarks on the crisis by saying the recent violence is a reminder that the “status quo is unsustainable” and that the only path to true security is a, “just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, where differences are resolved peacefully and in ways that respect the dignity of all people.”

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