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US willing to negotiate Israel cease-fire, Obama tells Netanyahu

President Obama.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images/File

President Obama.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is telling Israel’s leader that the United States is willing to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, as Israel was intensifying an bombardment of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to thwart rocket fire targeting Israel.

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The White House says Obama condemned the rockets and said Israel has the right to self-defense. But Obama also urged both sides not to escalate the crisis and to restore calm.

Obama also relayed concerns about a Palestinian-American teenager who was detained and apparently beaten by Israeli authorities. Obama says Israel has worked to resolve that situation.

The two leaders also discussed Iran. Obama says the U.S. won’t accept any deal that doesn’t ensure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.

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