BEIJING: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Israel and the Palestinians faced a "dangerous moment" as violence spiraled in Gaza, adding he had urged a ceasefire compatible with Israeli self-defense.
Kerry told reporters he had been in touch with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas "to see whether or not there's some capacity to be able to restore the status quo ante with respect to a ceasefire."
"It's a dangerous moment," Kerry said in Beijing after the conclusion of annual strategic and economic talks with top Chinese officials.
"We're already engaged in trying to see if it is possible to bring an end to the violence and find a different way forward."
But he added: "No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support completely Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks."
There are growing international calls for a ceasefire to stop the worst confrontations in and around Gaza since 2012.
Nearly 80 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge early Tuesday in a bid to halt cross-border rocket fire.
The violence follows the burning to death of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists in apparent revenge for the kidnap and killing of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank.
"The situation on the ground in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza is obviously not only tense but it's very, very dangerous for Israelis and for Palestinians in the aftermath of the deaths of the Israeli and Palestinian youth," Kerry said.
"De-escalation ultimately is in the interests of all parties, in the interests of the region, in the interests of Israel and the Palestinians."
Kerry stressed that the issue is "saving lives, protecting Israel exercising the right of self-defense and trying to de-escalate in the way that accomplishes all of those goals of protecting Israel, while at the same time not seeing innocent people drawn into the line of fire."