JERUSALEM Israel is prepared to escalate its Gaza Strip offensive but would prefer a long-term diplomatic solution to the threat of rockets from the Palestinian enclave, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
"If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem with diplomatic means, we prefer that," he said in a public statement alongside visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"But if not, I'm sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people."
Clinton said she would work with Israel and Egypt on brokering a truce in Gaza "in the days ahead".
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Kevin Liffey)