Senior US Senator Carl Levin criticized Egypt’s “weak” efforts Sunday to pressure its ally Hamas to reduce tensions in the bloody conflict between Gaza’s Islamist rulers and their enemy Israel.
Egypt was mediating talks between Hamas and Israel to broker a ceasefire to the conflict that had claimed 64 Palestinian lives in nearly 100 hours of Israeli air raids, and seen three Israelis killed by rockets fired from Gaza.
Washington has urged both Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to press Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel.
Egypt and Turkey have in the past mediated ceasefires and a prisoner exchange between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Both countries’ relations with the Jewish state have grown increasingly cold over Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.
US President Barack Obama said earlier Sunday that it was “preferable” for the Gaza crisis to be ended without a “ramping up” of Israeli military action, as fears mounted of a new invasion of the Hamas-run territory.
Levin warned that the crisis could deepen.
Morsi, elected in June after a popular uprising overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak last year, recalled his ambassador in Tel Aviv after the latest salvo of Israeli airstrikes began and sent his premier to Gaza on Friday in a show of support to Hamas.