Daily Israel Report

Obama to Appoint Middle East Crisis Team on 'Day One'

Team will deal with Gaza conflict as well as other Middle East hotspots. Poll shows most Americans confident in Obama's ability to deal with Gaza.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/16/2009, 12:37 PM

United States President-elect Barack Obama said he will appoint a team immediately after his inauguration on Tuesday to address on "Day One" the crisis in Gaza, as well as other troubles across the Middle East.

"We've got a regional set of problems," Obama said in an interview with USA Today, noting the challenges in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in addition to the war over the Land of Israel. "They're not going to be solved in isolation. And we've got to be active in all these areas in order for us to be successful in any of these areas."

According to the report, Obama is planning a “diplomatic offensive, which could include the appointment of special envoys,” and which “contrasts sharply” with President Bush's approach to the region. “Bush put less emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict early in his tenure and tended to deal with Middle East problems separately,” the report explained.

Most Americans Blame Arab Side
The most recent poll by Rasmussen Reports showed 53% of Americans at least somewhat confident in Obama’s ability to deal with the situation in Gaza, including 25% who are “very confident” in the President-elect.

The Rasmussen poll found that 56 percent of voters nationwide believe that “the Palestinians are to blame” for the current situation in Gaza, while 13 percent say Israel is at fault. Close to half - 45% - said Israel was justified in taking military action against Gaza, while 38% opined that the Jewish nation should have tried harder to find a diplomatic solution.

As in the earlier survey, Republicans strongly agree with Israel, while Democrats wish there had been more efforts at diplomacy. Half of those polled said Israel should agree to a truce now, while 26 percent disagree.