From NBC's Savannah Guthrie
HAWAII -- President-elect Obama and his team deferred on the situation in the Middle East over the weekend, but said he would confer with National Security Adviser-designee Gen. James Jones and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton.
Here's the statement:
"President-elect Obama continues to closely monitor global events, including the situation in Gaza," a transition official said. "He had an intelligence briefing today and plans to talk with General Jones and Senator Clinton this evening. We appreciate the information being shared by the Administration. There is one president at a time, and our work now is focused on being ready to hit the ground running on January 20th."
*** UPDATE *** White House places blame squarely on Hamas
NBC's Patty Culhane adds that National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe released the following statement:
"In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire. That is the objective to which all parties need to be working. That is what the United States is working towards."
*** UPDATE 2 *** Here's this morning's statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who says that he "strongly support[s]" Israel's "right" to retaliate against Hamas:
"I continue to closely monitor events in Gaza. I strongly support Israel's right to defend its citizens against rocket and mortar attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza, which have killed and injured Israeli citizens, and to restore security to its residents. Hamas' failure to stop these attacks only exacerbates the humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermines efforts to attain peace and security in the region."
*** UPDATE 3 *** NBC's Carrie Dann adds a wrap on the latest in the violence:
Violence -- defined as "all-out war" by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak -- continues in the Gaza Strip today as the Israeli military intensifies its efforts to weaken Hamas. The Bush administration has squarely placed the blame for the retaliatory air strikes on Hamas, which has rained rockets into Israeli territory. Palestinian casualties are estimated at more than 300.
Obama has remained cautious about inserting himself into the politics of the clash, speaking only through spokespersons and repeating the mantra that "there is one president at a time."
Politico points out that the Gaza strikes mean a tough path ahead for the president-elect, whose foreign policy team includes advisors with slightly divergent views on the best way to work towards Middle East peace.
"Within Obama's transition, Democrats say there's a subtle division between advisers who hold out hope for a directly negotiated peace, culminating with a signing ceremony on the South Lawn, and those who have argued for a more oblique approach aimed at a negotiated peace between Israel and Syria, and weakening Syria's ties with Iran. The latter group of advisers -- which include former Clinton aides Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk -- see weakening the role of Iran, which is closely tied to Hezbollah, as central to establishing an Israeli-Palestinian peace."