Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) issued the statement below today about the announcement of a ceasefire in Gaza:
"The announcement of an apparent ceasefire in Gaza is a welcome and important development, and I hope and pray that it marks the first step towards a broader framework for sustainable security and stability in the region.
"The fundamental reason for the fighting in Gaza this past week was the campaign of indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel this year, launched by Palestinian extremist groups in Gaza, armed by their Iranian government sponsors. It is these extremist forces -- in Gaza and Iran -- who bear responsibility for the tragic deaths and injuries of innocent Israelis and Palestinians alike, and who will continue to pose the preeminent threat to the peace and security that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve.
"Now that a ceasefire has been declared, it is critical to ensure that the destabilizing flow of weapons into Gaza is stopped so that the extremists there cannot rearm. I urge the Obama Administration to intensify our security cooperation with our Middle Eastern partners to disrupt these transnational smuggling networks -- including the Governments of Egypt and Libya, whose own security and sovereignty is threatened by these weapons.
"I am also encouraged by the constructive contributions of President Morsi and his government in brokering this ceasefire. The events of the past week offer hopeful signs that Egypt's new government is prepared to be the responsible regional leader that the Middle East needs, and -- just as importantly -- that it is critical for the United States to remain closely engaged with the Egyptians, at the highest level, if we want them to continue down this path.
"Most of all, the achievement of a ceasefire is a powerful and timely reminder of the indispensable leadership America must exercise in the Middle East, because our nation continues to have vital national interests there. I commend President Obama and Secretary Clinton for their direct personal engagement in working with key regional actors towards a ceasefire, and for their steadfast support of Israel's right to self-defense.
"The conduct of the United States in recent days demonstrates powerfully why it is a false choice to suggest the United States must focus on either the Middle East or Asia-Pacific, at the expense of the other. The truth is, American leadership is indivisible and indispensable in both parts of the world: the President can attend a summit with our Asian partners at the same time he engages with our Middle Eastern allies to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza. This is also a moment of unprecedented possibility in both regions, as tectonic changes like the rise of China and the Arab Spring mean the future for Asians and Middle Easterners has never been more open or uncertain. From Egypt to Burma, and from Syria to the South China Sea, the demand -- and the need -- for strong, principled American leadership has never been greater."