bushcowardBush Gaza Crisis Response: Let Obama Handle It

WASHINGTON — With time running out on the Bush presidency, the administration seemed increasingly ready Friday to let the crisis in Gaza fall to President-elect Barack Obama. Although aides to President George W. Bush insisted they are still working hard to secure a “durable and sustainable” cease-fire _ even as their influence wanes with less than three weeks in office,  they all but ruled out a more direct approach and stood behind Israel, squarely blaming Hamas militants for the latest flare up in Mideast violence.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice briefed Bush on developments in Gaza, where intensifying rocket fire from Palestinian militants has elicited days of punishing air strikes by Israel, and she continued furious telephone diplomacy to arrange a truce. Yet, she said she had no plans to make an emergency visit to the region despite increasing pressure to do so.