US president, George Bush, stated on Tuesday that he is still “optimistic that Israel and the Palestinians will achieve a peace deal” before he leaves office in ten months, despite the latest Israeli military escalation. The statements of Bush came after holding talks at the White House with the Jordanian Monarch Abdulla II.

Bush said that “ten months are a long period”, and that the US will help in putting the peace process back on its track.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, stated on Tuesday that the military assaults against the Gaza Strip will continue.

Barak refused to admit the Israel is using excessive force against the Palestinian people and only said that the fighters in Gaza should stop firing homemade shells into adjacent Israeli areas.

The large scaled military offensive against the Gaza Strip ended on Monday leaving 120 Palestinians dead and more than 300 injured. Most of the casualties were civilians, including children and women.

On Tuesday, U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, met the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the central West Bank city of Ramallah.