Reuters – Pres. Bush and Pres. elect Obama on the Gaza Massacre:
Bush made clear while he is concerned about deteriorating conditions for Palestinians living in Gaza that he puts the onus on Hamas, and he stopped short of calling for an immediate halt to the fighting as some European leaders have done.
“I understand Israel’s desire to protect itself, and that the situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas,” Bush said in his first public response to Israel’s ground offensive in the territory.…
Obama, who has promised to make Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking a high priority, remained largely silent on Gaza, but said Bush administration officials were briefing him regularly on the situation.
“When it comes to foreign affairs, it is particularly important to adhere to the principle of one president at a time, because there are delicate negotiations taking place right now, and we can’t have two voices coming out of the United States when you have so much at stake,” Obama told reporters in Washington.
Bush, speaking to reporters after a White House meeting with a Sudanese official, said Hamas was to blame for the Gaza crisis. “Any ceasefire must have the conditions in it so that Hamas does not use Gaza as a place from which to launch rockets,” Bush said.
International efforts to secure a ceasefire moved ahead with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Middle East special envoy Tony Blair visiting the region, but they had no apparent immediate impact on the fighting. The death toll in besieged Gaza rose to at least 541 people over the 10-day offensive.…
“The United States is concerned about the humanitarian crisis. We care about the people of Gaza and therefore have provided millions of dollars of fresh aid to the United Nations to help,” Bush said.
“All of us of course would like to see violence stop,” Bush said, but added that the cessation should not come at the expense of steps to prevent a Gaza crisis from recurring.
Little Alex in Wonderland’s repeated claims of US cynicism in the UN Security [sic] Council (UNSC) were emphasized by Ha’aretz, an Israel daily publication:
The United States is determined to thwart any Arab initiative aimed at forcing the UN Security Council to assume a direct role in the Gaza crisis.
Reliable sources at the UN say that the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, has received explicit instructions from his superiors at the State Department to torpedo any initiative proposed by the Arab bloc which is designed to grant the Security Council the status of an official arbiter that will have direct involvement with disentangling the Gaza crisis.…
The U.S. policy means that the Arab foreign ministers who arrived in New York on Sunday in an effort to advance a Libyan cease-fire initiative can expect a diplomatic confrontation with Washington.
The US is seeking a “three-tier cease-fire” for Gaza that would include “an arrangement for reopening crossing points on the border with Israel” and “entail addressing the issue of tunnels into Gaza from Egypt through which Hamas has smuggled a variety of materials, including arms.”
Fellow Big Five UNSC member with veto power, China’s President Hu Jintao, has expressed his concern for Gaza — referring to it as a “humanitarian crisis.” (For a humanitarian crisis, Pres. Hu need no look not too far, but whatever.):
“We are very worried about the humanitarian crisis that has emerged in the Gaza Strip,” Hu told Bush in the telephone conversation, which happened late Sunday, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.
Hu “expressed concern about the escalation in the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis and the worsening turbulence in the Middle East,” the statement said.
“We hope that the relevant parties will immediately stop their military activities and armed clashes and relax the situation in order to create the conditions for a solution to the conflict by political means,” Hu said.…
Israeli Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak says that Gaza is “partially surrounded” and repeats Israel’s claim of self-defense.
Meanwhile, an Iranian journalist is arrested by Israeli authorities for “reporting the truth” that can “now get you jailed for violating the nation’s stringent new military censorship laws.”