Bush warns Israel off attacks on Iran, Hamas, Hizballah – report

This is reported by TIME magazine.
debkafile‘s Washington sources add that prime minister Ehud Olmert accused the Bush administration of establishing relations with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas when he met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of in Washington Monday, Nov. 23.
Over this issue, Olmert’s meeting with president George W. Bush at the White House, intended to be a farewell between friends, turned into a stormy encounter.
The president again warned the prime minister against resorting to any Israeli military action in the Middle East in the period between the two US presidencies. Olmert for his part accused the administration of using the Jordanian king Abdullah and the Gaza missile crisis to open the door for an approach to the Palestinian Hamas, which Washington lists as a terrorist organization.
The king was asked to relay the Bush administration’s request to Syria and the Damascus-based Hamas leader Khalad Meshaal to make Hamas-Gaza stop firing the scores of missiles then flying over southwestern Israel.
The king complied by sending two high-ranking emissaries to Damascus with the US request.
They returned with Meshaal’s affirmative response. Washington’s next step for averting an Israeli counter-assault in Gaza was to have the king to invite Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak to Amman. They were astonished to be presented with an accomplished fact: The US, Syria and Jordan had cooked up between them a new “Gaza ceasefire”.
According to our sources, Olmert told Bush that the American initiative had placed his government in an untenable position. It was seen to be failing to fight Hamas’ missile offensive while on the quiet, Washington was using Israeli quiescence to lay the foundations of a negotiating track with Palestinian extremists in Damascus and Gaza.
All the opinion polls agree that Olmert’s Kadima party and its coalition partner, Barak’s Labor, are fighting for their lives in the run-up to Israel’s Feb. 10, 2009 general election, while the right-of-center opposition bloc led by Likud is rising fast, making hay from the government’s weak-kneed military posture in obedience to US pressure.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources add that without being explicit, the US request intimated to Hamas leaders that by playing ball they would enhance the prospect of future contacts with Washington – whether with the Bush or Obama administrations was not spelled out. Meshaal took the hint.

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