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              In this image provided by the Egyptian President, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. About 500 Egyptian activists have crossed into Gaza to deliver medical supplies and show support for Palestinians facing an Israeli offensive. Morsi, comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent group of Hamas and has met with Hamas leaders in Cairo. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)

Obama pushed Israel to accept Egyptian cease-fire agreement friendly to Hamas

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama pressured Israel’s prime minister to adopt a cease-fire agreement with Hamas that was pushed by Hamas’ Egyptian ally, according to a White House statement released on Wednesday.

Obama “commended [Israel’s] Prime Minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal – which the President recommended the Prime Minster do,” said the 12.31 a.m. EST statement from the White House. (RELATED: Egypt says Gaza cease-fire deal reached)

The cease-fire terms released by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s office do not mention any measures to penalize Hamas for launching another wave of rocket attacks against Israel.

“A. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals. … All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border,” said the statement.

The announcement also seems to accept Hamas’s demand for an end to Israeli restrictions on the importation of military-related items into the enclave, and its ban on movement of Hamas’ people from Gaza to the nearby West Bank, which is ruled by an unpopular Arab authority that has curbed attacks against Israel.

“Refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire,” said the announcement.

The announcement does not include mechanisms to enforce Hamas’s compliance. “Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding,” said the statement.

A Nov. 21 White House statement commended Morsi for his role in the negotiations, which only began after Israel responded to Hamas’ early-November bombardment of Israeli towns.

“President Obama spoke to President Morsi today … [and] thanked President Morsi for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal,” said the Nov. 21, 1:09 p.m. statement.

Obama’s applause for Morsi continues his 2009 outreach to Islamist parties. The outreach is intended to boost Islamist political groups — including the Muslim Brotherhood — and undermine the Arab public’s support for jihadi groups.

That outreach goal was echoed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a press event in Cairo. “Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country cornerstone of regional stability,” she claimed.

However, most Islamist groups — including the brotherhood groups and Turkey’s Islamist party — continue to publicly align and cooperate with the popular jihadi groups, such as Hamas.

In contrast to the applause given to Morsi, the White House statement about Obama’s phone call with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was guarded. (RELATED: Obama offered to establish full ties with Iran)

“The President expressed his appreciation for the Prime Minister’s efforts to work with the new Egyptian government to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and a more durable solution to this problem,” said the statement, which did not include any mention of Obama thanking Netanyahu for agreeing to the cease-fire proposal.