By DONNA CASSATA
WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker John Boehner said Monday that support for Israel must be the United States' main focus and not peace mediation in a subtle jab at the Obama administration.
"At times like this, people try to isolate Israel - but we are here to stand with Israel," Boehner said in remarks at the National Press Club. "Not just as a broker or observer - but as a strong partner and a trusted ally."
Boehner defined that support: "Well, it doesn't mean issuing vague, on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand statements. No, it means backing up our words, and showing solidarity with our friend."
The comments from the Ohio Republican came as Secretary of State John Kerry has tried to negotiate a humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after weeks of fighting, with little success.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned his country that it faces a prolonged campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Boehner said the U.S. House will always support Israel's right to defend itself.
"We will not equate professional militaries with terrorist organizations that use human shields and seek to maximize civilian casualties," Boehner said. "And we insist that the demilitarization of Gaza be not just a House goal but a shared, uncompromising U.S. and international objective."
Boehner addressed the National Leadership Assembly for Israel, which was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
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