In the effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the US has not taken a front-line role. Partly, that's President Obama's style, partly it's because of new realities.
As Egypt assumes a central role in efforts to reach a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza conflict – and as a parade of Arab leaders jockey to show solidarity with Hamas – one country appears to be sitting on the diplomatic sidelines: the United States.
Both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton – traveling together in Southeast Asia this week – have made repeated phone calls to leaders in Middle East. They have emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself from rockets launched by militant groups inside Hamas-governed Gaza.
But the US role has stood out more for its backstage efforts. Other international leaders, from United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to British Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have seemed to stand out more prominently in efforts to stop the fighting. On Tuesday, an Arab League delegation is expected to visit Gaza.