US President George W. Bush has bluntly warned Israel against striking Iran's nuclear facilities or launching a broad military response to Hamas rocket fire from the Gaza Strip during his final weeks in office, according to Time magazine.
The warning was first issued last week by senior American officials to their counterparts in Israel, who told Time, "We have been warned off."
The instruction was expected to be repeated by Bush himself when he met with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday in Washington.
According to US officials cited in the article, the Bush Administration fears that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities will force Washington to completely revamp its policies across the Middle East in a way that is not conducive to American interests.
Earlier, some speculated that Olmert's meeting with Bush was actually a planning session for a strike on Iran prior to Barack Obama's swearing in on January 20.
As for Gaza, despite the devastating effect ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks are having on Israeli civilians, Bush is unwilling to have his "Roadmap" peace plan jeopardized by a strong Israeli response.
As the two men met the press for their last joint press conference as world leaders, Bush declared that his vision for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is alive and well.
Bush solicited the help of Jordan's King Abdullah last week in calming the Gaza situation. Abdullah dispatched a senior military official to urge Hamas to freeze all rocket fire on Israel, but he also summoned Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Amman to caution them that an Israeli invasion of Gaza could compromise Israel's relations with Jordan and Egypt.
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