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Jul 15, 2014 12:16 AM by Associated Press

At Ramadan dinner, Obama praises Egypt's cease-fire plan for Israel, Hamas militants in Gaza

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is praising Egypt's proposal for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

At a White House dinner Monday evening celebrating Ramadan, Obama told Muslim-Americans he's hopeful that the plan can restore calm in the wake of a deadly wave of violence.

The upbeat assessment came hours after Egypt presented a plan to end a week of heavy fighting that has killed at least 185 people. Both Israel and the Palestinians say they are seriously considering the proposal, which marks the first sign of a breakthrough in international efforts to end the conflict.

At the same time, Obama says the U.S. has been "very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself" against an onslaught of rockets being launched indiscriminately by Hamas militants into Israel. He also lamented the death and injury of Palestinian civilians during Israel's military offensive to quell the rockets.

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