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Washington - Anonymous US Comment On Israel Roils Relations

Published on: October 29, 2014 04:50 PM
By: AP
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FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reach out to shake hands during their meeting at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington October 1,  2014.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque Washington - Anonymous White House criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that drew condemnation in Israel is roiling Washington politics, putting the U.S. administration on the defensive and prompting congressional demands for President Barack Obama to repudiate the remarks.

The Atlantic quoted an unidentified administration official who used profanity to assail Netanyahu and complained about his settlement policies in the West Bank. The official also questioned the prime minister’s commitment to Middle East peace efforts as well as his resolve to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran to thwart its nuclear program.

The incendiary comments come six days before elections with Democrats struggling to hold onto their Senate majority and taking steps to boost voter turnout in typically low-interest midterm contests. The remarks also come against the backdrop of negotiations involving the United States and other Western powers to secure a nuclear agreement with Iran.

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The high-profile diplomatic flap, all based on anonymous opinion, underscored the already tense relationship between Obama and Netanyahu despite decades of close ties between the United States and its Mideast ally.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest insisted Wednesday that the remarks did not reflect the administration’s view and were counterproductive.

“The prime minister and the president have forged an effective partnership, they consult closely and frequently and did so as recently as this month right here at the White House in the Oval Office,” Earnest said. “That close relationship does not mean that we paper over our differences. The fact is the United States has repeatedly made clear our view that settlement activity is illegitimate, and only serves to complicate efforts to achieve a two-state solution in the region.”

National Security Adviser Susan Rice maintained that the U.S.-Israel relationship “is not in crisis.” Rice was meeting on Thursday with her Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen, and senior delegation of Israeli officials for the US-Israel Consultative Group Meeting — a biannual event.

In Jerusalem, Netanyahu dismissed the comments and insisted he was “not prepared to make concessions that will endanger our state.”

“Our supreme interests, with security and the unity of Jerusalem first and foremost, are not among the top concerns of those anonymous elements that are attacking us and me personally,” he said.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans and some Democrats pounced on the anonymous comments and criticized the administration.

“When the president discusses Israel and Iran, it is sometimes hard to tell who he thinks is America’s friend and who he thinks is America’s enemy,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Over the last several months, I have watched the administration insult ally after ally. I am tired of the administration’s apology tour. The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not. It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said “responsible presidents ensure their advisers work through policy differences with our closest partners respectfully and through the appropriate channels.”

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the comments “counterproductive” and “unprofessional.”

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said in a tweet: “The administration’s attack on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu damages our efforts in a critical region at a critical time.”



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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Oct 29, 2014 at 06:29 PM Yossi Says:

MissGareh Beimos....Israel has been doing this since it became a State and they are the cause why JEWS all over the world suffer from Anti-Semitisim...
OK critics now start posting your comments but YOU all know deep down the Truth

2

 Oct 29, 2014 at 07:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Israel fortunately doesn't need to rely on the USA as much as it used to, simply because it now has China as its real genuine ally.
China has a big 6 billion dollar stake in Israel after its recent acquisition of dairy giant Tenuva and of fertilizer chemical giant agam machtishim. It is no wonder that ten days in to its war with Hamas this past summer, president Xi Xinping dispatched his senior first vice foreign minister to Israel to mediate a cease fire, with no media coverage. China has trillions of dollars in bilateral trade agreements with all the Arab states and pulls all the economic hamstrings. China wants to treat Israel as an equal and is ready to invest trillions for Israeli technology in all fields. China has the capacity to supply Israel with all its defense needs which it won't need once China really steps in to center stage and instructs it's Arab "customers" to lay off of Israel and if they have any issues they can discuss it in Beijing! China has an impeccable record in caring, honoring, and looking at the Jewish people with pride and dignity all through its own history as history shows time and time again till today!

3

 Oct 29, 2014 at 07:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Obama is almost like Ms. Palin. He can see Rabbis Fall down from his High Chair.

Disgusting.

4

 Oct 29, 2014 at 09:39 PM savtat Says:

Reply to #1  
Yossi Says:

MissGareh Beimos....Israel has been doing this since it became a State and they are the cause why JEWS all over the world suffer from Anti-Semitisim...
OK critics now start posting your comments but YOU all know deep down the Truth

Are you kidding???? So why was Hitler anti-Semitic? There was no state then. Why did we have pogroms and Chmielnicki???? You need to review your history.

5

 Oct 30, 2014 at 06:11 AM History Repeats Itself Says:

John Boehner used the exact same term, when referring to Obama's voting record, in 2008. George H.W. Bush (#41), also used that term, when referring to a Jewish Senator from Minnesota, who questioned his policies. The Senator was accidentally killed years later, in a private plane crash. Also, LBJ used that term, when referring to a question that a reporter asked him, that he didn't like. The fact of the matter is that there is bad blood between Obama and Netanyahu, on a personal level, which is unprecedented. The situation will probably remain status quo, until Jan.20, 2017.

6

 Oct 30, 2014 at 01:08 PM anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
savtat Says:

Are you kidding???? So why was Hitler anti-Semitic? There was no state then. Why did we have pogroms and Chmielnicki???? You need to review your history.

You are right but it is a waste of time. Go back to the crusades and the blood bath in Speyer and Mainz

7

 Oct 30, 2014 at 05:32 PM marcia Says:

To all the Obama supporters who choose to look to blame anyone/thing other than where the blame lies, with the present administration, good luck when reality hits you.

8

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