Middle East Watch

By Dan Froomkin
1:21 PM ET, 01/23/2009

Obama yesterday made it clear that the Middle East will be an urgent priority for his administration -- but those hoping for him to announce a substantially new approach were disappointed.

Mark Landler writes in the New York Times: "Signaling his determination to use diplomacy to address the world's toughest conflicts, President Obama went to the State Department on Thursday to install high-level emissaries to handle the Arab-Israeli issue and Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Mr. Obama struck an empathetic tone toward Palestinians in Gaza, who he said were suffering greatly after the recently halted Israeli military campaign against Hamas. But he signaled no major shift in American policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian issue."

Landler also warns of "some jockeying over whether the State Department or the White House will dominate foreign policy."

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