Obama also spoke with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, congratulating him on his government’s handling of the talks. The United States does not recognize Hamas, which it considers to be a terrorist group. Egypt, whose Muslim Brotherhood leadership is close to Hamas officials, served as a proxy for Hamas’ interests.
The seven-point agreement called for Israel to “stop all hostilities on the Gaza land, sea and air including incursion and targeting of individuals,” an apparent reference to the Israeli efforts to kill Hamas leaders.
In return, “all Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and attacks along the border.”
Israel agreed to allow some goods to enter Gaza and for residents to leave after 24 hours.
Israel launched its military offensive in Gaza on Nov. 14 to halt months of renewed rocket fire from Gaza. In a first salvo, it killed Hamas’ military chief, then bombarded more than 1,500 targets in eight days of airstrikes and artillery attacks. Militants led by Hamas showered Israel with more than 1,500 rockets, including longer-range weapons that reached as far as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The fighting killed 161 Palestinians, including 71 civilians, and forced hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the border to remain huddled indoors. Five Israelis were killed. It was the worst bloodshed since the Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago that left hundreds dead.
At a news conference in Cairo, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal claimed victory, saying that Israel’s assault in Gaza had succeeded only in destroying buildings and killing innocent people, but had not broken the will of the residents.
He boasted of the arsenal Hamas had amassed, both through a homegrown weapons industry and support from Iran, Israel’s archenemy.
“We thank Iran for its support along with all the other nations that supported us,” he said.
McClatchy Newspapers special correspondent Frenkel reported from Tel Aviv, Youssef from Cairo. Special correspondents Mel Fryk- berg and Muhammad Shahin contributed from Gaza City, and information from The Associated Press is included.