Israel urged to accept truce as fighting resumes
United States joined Europe in urging Israel to accept cease-fire
Israeli analysts see a deadline to wrap up its Gaza campaign by the time Obama is sworn in, or risk a possible strain in ties with Washington.
Cease-fire "URGENTLY NEEDED"
Israeli ministers discussed the plan, a day after Israeli shelling killed 42 Palestinians at a U.N.-run Gaza school. Israel sees the talks with Cairo over a wider cease-fire plan promoted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a positive way..
"We welcome the French-Egyptian initiative. We want to see it succeed," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
GAZA (Reuters) - Israel's main ally, the United States, joined Europe in urging it on Wednesday to accept an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire and curtail its 12-day-old offensive in Gaza, where fighting resumed after a three-hour truce.
As its assault continued after a three-hour pause to let aid agencies distribute food, Israel's officials said they accepted the "principles" of the proposal, notably denying Hamas the ability to rearm through smuggling tunnels from Egypt. But they said the details needed to be worked out.
Rice pressed Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni by telephone, as the United Nations Security Council weighed action to end Israel's attacks on the Islamist group, in which 653 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni by telephone, as the United Nations Security Council weighed action to end Israel's attacks on the Islamist group, in which 653 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed according to medical officials.
"We are trying to move forward," said a senior U.S. official travelling with Rice to New York where she planned to push the staged plan for a truce between Israel and Hamas.
The plan calls for a halt to rocket attacks on Israel that Israel said triggered its offensive on December 27, the opening of border crossings into the coastal territory -- a key demand of Hamas -- and an end to weapons comings into Gaza.
Hamas also confirmed it was discussing the proposals, partly brokered by France, but the violence continued. The latest victims were a Palestinian man and three children killed in an Israeli air strike on a car in the north of the Gaza Strip.
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama also jacked up pressure on Israel to end the campaign by saying after a long silence he was "deeply concerned" and would "engage immediately"
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama also jacked up pressure on Israel to end the campaign by saying after a long silence he was "deeply concerned" and would "engage immediately" on the Middle East situation once he takes office on January 20.
VIDEO Reuters: (Windows IE only) Obama speaks out on Gaza
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama breaks his silence on the Israeli offensive, to say the loss of life among civilians was "a source of deep concern" for him. Coming after Israeli tank shells killed at least 40 Palestinians at a U.N. school where civilians had taken shelter, Obama's statement was his most