Last updated: 16 November, 2012

Obama and Erdogan: Gaza violence hurts Mideast peace hopes

US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed concern Friday that renewed violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip would damage the Middle East peace process.

“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 White House said, after Obama called the Turkish leader.

The White House had previously made it clear that it blames the Islamist movement Hamas for the latest round of fighting, urging it to halt the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

Turkey has been critical of Israel, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of stepping up the conflict in order to win domestic political advantage ahead of January’s parliamentary elections.

But both leaders shared the concern that the conflict is worsening.

“The president and prime minister agreed that the continued spiral of violence jeopardizes prospects for a durable, lasting peace in the region,” the White House statement said.

“The president underscored his commitment to advancing the goal of Middle East peace. The president’s call to Prime Minister Erdogan follows his outreach to counterparts in Israel and Egypt on November 14.”