U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following statement on the ceasefire declared in Gaza:
"We welcome the declaration of a ceasefire in Gaza, and sincerely hope that this will mark the end of the horrific rocket attacks that have killed and terrorized so many innocent men, women, and children in Israel. We are deeply saddened by the loss of life, both Israeli and Palestinian, that has occurred in this conflict. Israelis and Palestinians both deserve to live in peace and security. But if that peace is threatened, as it has been this year by the dramatic increase in attacks against Israel by Hamas and other groups in Gaza, the Government of Israel has not just a right, but a responsibility, to defend its citizens.
"We commend Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders for the role they played in reaching today's ceasefire. We also are encouraged by the responsible leadership role played by the President of Egypt and his government. President Morsi deserves credit for successfully bringing an end to the violence and preventing further loss of life on both sides. These actions are befitting the commitment to peace and security that Egypt has traditionally upheld as a leader of the Arab world.
"While today's ceasefire is a positive and reassuring step, it must be built on in the days and weeks ahead if it is to lead to a more durable security and the realization of the goal we all seek: a lasting peace with real security between Israel and its Palestinian and other Arab neighbors. One of the main obstacles to this better future is the malicious and destructive behavior of the Iranian regime. Many of the deadliest and longest range rockets that were fired into Israel over the past few days were provided by the Iranian government. That is unacceptable and must be prevented. We urge President Morsi to act swiftly to stop the smuggling of weapons to extremists in Gaza and Sinai, which is a threat to Egypt's own sovereignty, stability and national security.
"Above all, the recent fighting in Gaza underscores that this is a moment in history when the future of the Middle East has never been less certain -- and when the actions or inaction of the United States will be critical to determining what path this vital region takes. From the worsening civil war in Syria to the security vacuum in Libya, and from Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons to heightened tensions in Iraq, what happens in the Middle East will impact America's vital national security interests for the foreseeable future, and stronger, smarter American leadership is desperately needed. There is no pivoting away from that fact."