Despite Barack Obama’s persistent pledges as president-elect that he would not meddle in foreign affairs while President Bush was in office, a new report in The New Yorker claims that his transition team worked to persuade Israel to end its offensive in the Gaza Strip before Inauguration Day.
The article also quoted a former intelligence official as saying former Vice President Dick Cheney started “getting messages from the Israelis about pressure from Obama” before Jan. 20.
In response, Cheney reportedly portrayed Obama as “pro-Palestinian” in conversations with the Israelis.
Cheney’s then-adviser on national security disputed the story, saying an alleged conversation about the issue between Cheney and national security adviser-to-be Jim Jones “never, ever happened.”
“It is a complete fabrication from beginning to end,” former Cheney adviser John Hannah said in an e-mail to FOXNews.com.
But he did not dispute the specific claim that the Obama transition team was involving itself in Israeli affairs.
In the magazine article, Seymour Hersh reported that Obama’s team worked to persuade Israel to stop bombing Gaza and withdraw its ground troops.
Such a move would seem to contradict the president-elect’s public statements at the time.
Obama said in early January that he was “very concerned” about the loss of life in the region and would engage the issue as president, but until then was deferring to Bush in recognition that there is one president at a time. He was receiving briefings at the time from then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was working to negotiate a cease-fire as one of her last acts in the post.
The White House did not return a request for comment on The New Yorker article.
Hersh said in a cable interview Monday that Cheney talked to Jones after hearing complaints about Obama’s involvement from the Israelis.
In turn, Hersh said Jones talked to Obama about the best way to deal with the Israelis going forward.
Hannah disputed all the claims about Cheney’s involvement.
“The statements that Mr. Hersh claims were made by Vice President Cheney during the Gaza crisis simply never happened. They are outright falsehoods, manufactured out of whole cloth by Mr. Hersh’s anonymous sources,” he said in the e-mail.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Hersh’s sources have led him badly astray.”