President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke again today by phone about the situation in Gaza. The President underscored the United States’ strong condemnation of Hamas’ rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. The President also reiterated the United States’ serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed the United States’ support for Egypt’s initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities.
The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority. The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.
So today I decided to take a half day off from work to finish my Christmas shopping. My cousin who is a shopaholic told me about a newer Mall near Baltimore that had a specialty store that I needed to make a purchase from.
So I leave work and swing by and pick her up and we head out to the Mall. Otherwise I would have been in the comfortable setting of my office when my phone rang at 5:04 EST.
I almost didn’t answer because I wasn’t familiar with the number but thought it was one of my sons calling from work since it was a DC exchange.
Now I was at the cash register when my phone rang and I answered it intending to tell whichever son this was that I would call them right back because I was at the checkout in the Mall. So I answer and a male voice asks if this is Donna S…….. and I respond hesitantly yes. He immediately says the most magical words that I have heard in my life. He says…..
“Hold for President Obama” and within a second I hear. “Hello Donna! Congratulations, you were the winner of the grassroots fundraising challenge!”
Now I drop the bags I had in my hand and said “OMG, it’s President Obama”. My cousin looks at me as if I have lost my mind and the cashier’s face is scrunched up looking at me as if to say, ‘what happened?’ I whisper to my cousin that it’s the real President Obama on my phone. The cashier goes crazy and all the cashiers rush over and my cousin is telling me that it can’t be. So I asked him to tell her it’s really him. Once she hears his voice she drops her bags and screams “OMG, IT’S THE PRESIDENT!” I’m laughing hysterically at this point. Y’all had to be there to see that scene in that store.
I get the phone back from my cousin and he says, “now you tell Jackie (my cousin) she can’t be hijacking your phone call”. He said, “you know Donna, I get this all the time. People never believe it’s me calling. I just don’t understand it.”
His sense of humor is off the chart.
He thanks me for winning the grassroots challenge. He says he is grateful for all the work being done on his behalf. I thank him. I tell him how much I admire and appreciate all that he is doing for our country and that there are so many of us who “have his back”.
Then I told him about The Obama Diary, the wonderful space created to support him on a daily basis. I asked him to stop by someday. He said to tell you all that he is grateful for the support and that he loves you back and then he wished us all a Merry Christmas. I in turn wished him and his Family a Merry Christmas from both the OFA and TOD bloggers and then he was gone.
It was a magnificent Christmas present.
Thank you TOD for helping to make this possible!!!
We needed a smile today, this memory did the job …. greatest/funniest TOD night ever, waiting for Donna’s report!
@petesouza: Historic phone call in the Oval Office: Pres Obama talks w Iran Pres Hassan Rouhani this afternoon
Just now, I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. I reiterated to President Rouhani what I said in New York. While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution.
I’ve directed Secretary Kerry to continue pursuing this diplomatic effort with the Iranian government. We had constructive discussions yesterday in New York with our partners, the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China, together with the Iranian foreign minister.
Going forward, President Rouhani and I have directed our teams to continue working expeditiously in cooperation with the P-5-plus-1 to pursue an agreement. And throughout this process, we’ll stay in close touch with our friends and allies in the region, including Israel.
Now, we’re mindful of all the challenges ahead. The very fact that this was the first communication between an American and Iranian president since 1979 underscores the deep mistrust between our countries, but it also indicates the prospect of moving beyond that difficult history. I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution. Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.
I’ve made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations. So the test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place.
Resolving this issue obviously could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect. It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region, one that would help the Iranian people fulfill their extraordinary potential, but also help us address other concerns that could bring greater peace and stability to the Middle East.
A path to a meaningful agreement will be difficult. And at this point, both sides have significant concerns that will have to be overcome. But I believe we’ve got a responsibility to pursue diplomacy, and that we have a unique opportunity to make progress with the new leadership in Tehran. I also communicated to President Rouhani my deep respect for the Iranian people.
Steve Benen: …. I hope the political world can appreciate just how remarkable this turn of events really is. A decade ago, U.S. foreign policy declared Iran part of an “axis of evil” and tensions between the nations escalated to dangerous levels. Now we’re seeing diplomatic breakthroughs and there’s a credible possibility of resolving the Iranian nuclear dispute.