Israel Feature: White House — “Netanyahu Spat In Our Face”

The public sparring between the Obama Administration and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has broken out again, this time over Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March.

Netanyahu did not tell the White House of the speech, which comes only two weeks before Israel’s General Election in which the Prime Minister is seeking another term.

President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry, wishing to avoid any appearance of partiality over the election, have said they will not meet the Prime Minister when he is in Washington for the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

A “senior Administration official” told the Israeli daily Haaretz that Netanyahu had shown disrespect for the US President:

We thought we’ve seen everything. But Bibi managed to surprise even us.

There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.

The official also made clear that Obama warned Netanyahu last week not to interfere with the President’s attempt to prevent new Congressional sanctions against Iran.

The official said Obama told Netanyahu by phone on January 12 that any additional sanctions would sabotage efforts to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic.

Obama’s and Netanyahu’s offices have feuded ever since the US President took office in 2009. After the Israeli Prime Minister’s first visit to the Obama White House, his staff scoffed to reporters that the US President was no more than a novice in international affairs, compared to Netanyahu’s vast expertise.

Last year, Administration officials fed the line to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg that Netanyahu was “chickenshit”. On Thursday they said that the epithet was mild compared to the language over the Israeli leader’s speech to Congress.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest had earlier chided Netanyahu and Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, for arranging the address:

We haven’t heard from the Israelis directly about the trip at all.

The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he is traveling there. That is certainly how President Obama’s trips are planned.

Read more: Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials say | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-spat-in-our-face-white-house-officials-say/#ixzz3PdfBdIy4
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Read more: Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials say | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-spat-in-our-face-white-house-officials-say/#ixzz3Pdf585VQ
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Read more: Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials say | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-spat-in-our-face-white-house-officials-say/#ixzz3Pde4UCSO
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Read more: Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials say | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-spat-in-our-face-white-house-officials-say/#ixzz3PdctJYQb
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Related Posts

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here