No word from Obama as Gaza crisis deepens
With less than three weeks until the inauguration of Barack Obama, the president-elect has stayed silent on the deepening crisis in Gaza as Israel begins a ground invasion against Hamas.
Members of Obama's transition team have only said their boss is "monitoring" the situation, where at least 460 people have already been killed in eight days of air raids.
Obama's national security spokeswoman Brooke Anderson issued a statement after the ground assault got underway, but offered no further comment on the violence in Gaza except to use a phrase repeated often by Obama and his aides:
"There is one president at a time and we intend to respect that."
Obama has spent the last several weeks pushing for an economic stimulus plan and has said that fixing the broken US economy is his top priority.
The soon-to-be president would face immense difficulty with his economic plans if he makes any move deemed "anti-Israel," according to a Friday opinion column.
"The White House will see its prime political enterprise, the economic recovery programme, immediately held hostage," according to the column.
Obama's silence is drawing criticism among Arabs who have grown skeptical that his administration will break with the Middle East policies of his predecessor.
The satellite TV network Al Jazeera contrasted footage of Obama wearing shorts and playing golf in Hawaii with scenes of the carnage in Gaza, by way of highlighting what it called "the deafening silence from the Obama team."
Wire services contributed to this report.