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Gaza tension: Obama calls Netanyahu, Morsi

US President Barack Obama has called the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat, in an effort to de-escalate tension in the region.

world Updated: Nov 17, 2012 10:09 IST

US President Barack Obama has called the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat, in an effort to de-escalate tension in the region.

This was Obama's second telephone calls to the two leaders this week with tension between Israelis and the Hamas flaring up, with all indication that it is escalating.

In his call with Netanyahu on Friday, Obama reiterated American support for Israel's right to defend itself, and expressed regret over the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives.

"The two leaders discussed options for de-escalating the situation," the White House said in a statement.

Commending Egypt's efforts to de-escalate the situation, Obama in his call with Morsi hoped that these efforts would be successful.

"The President expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives, and underscored the importance of resolving the situation as quickly as possible to restore stability and prevent further loss of life," White House said.

Obama also reached out to the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip, a presidential statement said, adding, the two leaders shared their concerns about the dangers to civilian populations on both sides and expressed their common desire to see an end to the violence.

"The President and Prime Minister agreed that the continued spiral of violence jeopardizes prospects for a durable, lasting peace in the region. The President underscored his commitment to advancing the goal of Middle East peace.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is travelling to South East Asia also reached out to her counterparts in Israel, Egypt and Turkey as part of the American effort to e-escalate the tension and prevent it from any further flaring up.

"In all cases, her message has been the same, that we are urging a de-escalation of this conflict. We are urging those countries with influence on Hamas and other groups in Gaza to use that influence to get a de-escalation," the State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.

"As you know, rockets are continuing to be launched from Gaza, including today. We support, as Israel's right to self-defence, and we obviously express our regret and sadness for the loss of life on all sides," Nuland said.

"It is a matter of the international community, and particularly regional states with influence, to do what they can to make clear to Hamas that this is not benefiting the cause of the Palestinian people and it's certainly not benefiting the cause of regional stability," she added.

US lawmakers strongly came up in support of Israel.

"With Israel under assault, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have made it clear: Israel has a right to defend herself as a nation," the Democratic Party leader, Nancy Pelosi, said.

US House of Representative passed a resolution expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognising and strongly supporting its right to act in self-defence to protect its citizens against designated foreign terrorist organisations and their supporters.

The bipartisan resolution was introduced by lawmakers Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Howard L Berman (D-CA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Meanwhile Nobel Women's Initiative yesterday called for the immediate end to the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine, and urged all sides to ensure the protection of civilians—particularly women and children—is made a priority within the current conflict.

"We are deeply concerned by intensification in recent attacks by both Israel and Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, since a rocket missile killed a top Hamas military leader in Gaza City on November 14. That same day, Israeli missiles claimed the lives of a number of civilians, including children. Gaza has fired missiles in return towards the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, both large population centres," the Nobel Women's Initiative said in a statement.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) called on Obama to demand that a cease fire in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict which was broken by a series of aerial bombings in the Gaza strip be immediately restored.

"If our nation does not take immediate action, we fear that not only would many more innocent lives be lost, but that the violence could have a lasting negative impact across the entire region," said ISNA Secretary General Safaa Zazour.