Obama speaks again with Morsi, Netanyahu

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama once again spoke with the Egyptian and Israeli leaders about the Gaza violence.

Obama, who is on a tour of the Far East, spoke Monday with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama and Morsi “discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, and President Obama underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel,” a White House statement said. “President Obama then called Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, and received an update on the situation in Gaza and Israel,” the statement said. “In both calls, President Obama expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives, and agreed to stay in close touch with both leaders.”

Israeli and Hamas officials are in Egypt, negotiating the terms of a truce through third parties. Obama has said previously that Hamas must first end its rocket fire into Israel.

Morsi’s sister died on Monday. Netanyahu reportedly passed a letter of condolence on to the Egyptian leader.

Officials traveling with Obama have said that such calls and other interactions between the three nations’ top echelons have become routine since Israel launched its air attacks on Gaza on Nov. 14 in retaliation for an intensification of rocket attacks on Israel. 

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