January 6, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Morton A. Klein
Phone: 212-481-1500 Print | Email
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern over reports that President-elect Barack Obama and his senior aides have refused all briefings on the current situation in Gaza from the Israeli government and its officials. In this way, he has been depriving himself of information that will be central to his deliberations on the Middle East, a subject on which he has promised to “hit the ground running” when he assumes office as President on January 20. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Obama and his senior aides have declined briefings from the Israeli government on the current crisis, said two people familiar with the Israeli outreach. Some foreign diplomats said Mr. Obama’s apparent reluctance to speak out on the Middle East is feeding uncertainty over how the international community should move forward on Gaza in the months ahead. A spokesman for Mr. Obama’s transition team said the president-elect has ruled out virtually all contact with foreign governments ahead of the inauguration so as not to give conflicting signals on U.S. policy.” (Jay Solomon, ‘U.S. Transition Slows Negotiations Over Gaza,’ Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is concerned about President-elect Obama’s refusal to accept briefings from Israeli officials during the current Gaza operations. This is highly unusual – accepting briefings implies no particular policy on behalf of the President-elect, who has taken the unusual step of making no comment on the Middle East on the grounds that George W. Bush is still the President. As we have already noted, this is an anomaly and an approach that has not been taken by President-elect Obama on any other area of policy. He has spoken out on Mumbai massacres, urged President George W. Bush to give loans to automobile companies and made statements on economic policy and the stimulus package.
So much for ruling out contacts with foreign governments. Obama is actually scheduled to meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Monday.