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(photo credit: AP)
A top adviser to Barack Obama said the US president-elect is monitoring Israel's intense air offensive again Gaza rocket squads and Hamas members but declined comment on the fresh Mideast crisis, deferring to the Bush administration.
David Axelrod said Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, was in contact with US President George W. Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice but that comment from him was not appropriate. More than 290 Palestinians have died in the first two days of the air campaign.
"President Bush speaks for the United States until Jan. 20 and we're going to honor that," Axelrod said Sunday.
Axelrod, a top presidential campaign official who is moving into Obama's White House inner circle, acknowledged that the United States has had a "special relationship" with Israel, calling it an "important bond, an important relationship."
Obama is "going to work closely with the Israelis. They're a great ally of ours, the most important ally in the region," Axelrod said. "And that is a fundamental principle from which he'll work. But he will do so in a way that will promote the cause of peace, and work closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on that."
Obama is receiving regular security briefings during his Hawaii holiday with his wife and two daughters. Sunday morning he again traveled to a Marine Corps base near his vacation home for an hour-long workout. Obama, his wife and two daughters are spending 12 days in Obama's native state. He has no public schedule through the New Year.