Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi rejected on Thursday what he called Israel’s aggression in Gaza and said he had spoken with US President Barack Obama about ways to bring it to a halt.
“The Israelis must understand that we do not accept this aggression, which can only lead to instability in the region,” Morsi said in televised remarks, as Israeli air forces pummelled Gaza and militants fired rockets back in a deadly tit for tat.
“Shortly before dawn, I called President Obama and we discussed the need to put an end to this aggression and to ensure it does not happen again,” he said.
“We discussed ways to promote calm and to stop these acts… and to achieve peace and security.”
“I explained Egypt’s role, Egypt’s position, that we have relations with the United States and the world, but at the same time we totally reject this aggression.”
Morsi, who said he had also spoken with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, said he agreed with Obama to continue “to communicate… to prevent an escalation.”
Egypt’s Islamist administration, which has close ties with Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, recalled its ambassador on Wednesday in protest at the Israeli operation, which began with the targeted killing of a top Hamas military commander.
In an earlier telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr “called on the United States to immediately intervene to bring to an end the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the ministry said.
“As long as the Israeli aggression continues, the situation will worsen in a way that will make it uncontrollable,” Amr told Clinton late on Wednesday.
He called on Washington to “use its contacts with Israel to bring to an end this aggression.”
On Wednesday, Morsi also ordered the foreign ministry to summon the Israeli envoy and called for an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers, which is slated to be held in Cairo on Saturday.
Egypt, which became in 1979 the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, previously withdrew its ambassador after a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000, when president Hosni Mubarak was still in power.
Under Mubarak, Cairo often played the role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas whenever violence erupted between the two sides, and that has continued under Morsi.
An Islamist elected in June after Mubarak’s overthrow in 2011, Morsi has promised to take a harder line on Israel than his predecessor, who was accused of doing little to stop the Jewish state’s devastating assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.