U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Hamas militants of provoking Israel's military incursion into the Gaza Strip and trying to wreck the peace process.
Rice made the comments in Cairo on Tuesday before heading to Israel, where she says she will work toward the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Negotiations were put on hold by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas following Israel's offensive into Gaza to stop Hamas from firing rockets into the southern part of the country. The campaign has left more than 100 Palestinians dead.
"There has to be an active peace process that can withstand the efforts of rejectionists to keep peace from being made; the people who are firing rockets do not want peace," Rice told reporters in Cairo. "They sow instability, that is what Hamas is doing."
Rice backed Israel's right to respond to the rocket fire. While cautioning Israel to avoid causing civilian casualties, she declined to call for a ceasefire.
"The rocket attacks against innocent Israelis in their cities need to stop. This can't go on. No Israeli government can tolerate that," she said. But the Israelis "need to be aware of the effects of these operations on innocent people."
Although Israeli ground troops withdrew from the Gaza Strip on Monday, officials have vowed to continue the campaign against Hamas and warned that a full-scale invasion is possible.
Despite the conflict, Rice was still confident a deal on a Palestinian state could be reached this year.
"I do think that negotiations ought to resume as soon as possible," Rice told reporters on her plane. "I understand that the situation has been complicated. But the longer the negotiations are not ongoing or the longer that they are suspended, if that's what one wants to call it, the more it is a victory for those who don't want to see a two-state solution."
Rice is set to meet Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and then with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Once again trying to put the finger pointing directly on Hamas, blaming them for Israel's actions, when it's already above and beyond the point of figuring out who started what, since it all never really ended in the first place and has been continually going on.
No this isn't a stab at Israel, although they deserve a good flogging for their own actions in this situation, but the perspective of this conflict needs to change and the blame shifting needs to stop before anybody can start talking about peace / peace talks.