Obama wants to maintain good relations with the Islamist governments, partly because each government can help or hinder his plans to arrange a peace-deal between Israel and the adjacent Muslim countries.
Those governments can also sink Obama’s much-touted plan to improve relations between Arabs and the United States. He outlined those plans in 2009 at a speech in Cairo, in which he indicated his support for the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group.
Since then, Muslim Brotherhood groups have won control of Egypt and Tunisia, and Turkey has stepped up its efforts to dominate regional politics.
Hamas is Gaza’s affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The current round of fighting began early November when Hamas launched a wave of rockets at Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Since then, Israel’s subsequent counterattack has destroyed numerous stored rockets and rocket launchers placed by Hamas in civilian areas. Israel’s careful attacks also have killed at least one senior Hamas leader, and some civilians living alongside the rocket sites.
Some of Hamas’ outgoing rockets have misfired and killed Arabs, including one child who was subsequently displayed by Hamas’ top leader and by the new Islamist prime minister of adjacent Egypt.
The elected Israeli government has said it will continue the anti-Hamas operation, but has also said it will stop if Hamas agrees to prevent rocket launches and to establish a one-kilometer-wide no-man’s land on Gaza’s border with Israel.
Hamas has denounced Israel’s peace offer, and instead has demanded that Israel stop killing its jihadi leaders and allow it to import weapons-related supplies into the enclave.
Throughout the fighting, Israel has continued to supply food, aid and electricity to the Hamas-controlled enclave.