November 25, 2008
U.S. officials have asked Israel to refrain from launching any major military action in the region during the waning days of the Bush presidency, Israeli sources have told TIME. Previously, some Israeli military officials had hinted to the media that if Israel were to carry out its threats to strike at Iranian nuclear installations, it might do so before Barack Obama enters the White House in January. But now a Defense Ministry official says, “We have been warned off.”
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The call for restraint was relayed to Israeli officials by senior U.S. counterparts, TIME’s sources say, and it is likely to be reinforced during Monday’s valedictory meeting in Washington between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President George W. Bush. (See pictures of President Bush in the Middle East.)
Washington’s concerns are not limited to the possibility of Israel attacking Iran, the sources say; U.S. officials have also cautioned Israelis against launching a ground assault inside the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza in a bid to stop militants there from firing rockets into southern Israel. Bush Administration officials warn that such an attack could cost many lives and jeopardize the painstaking, thus far futile efforts of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.