First Published: 2013-01-16

 

Netanyahu to Obama: Only Israel knows its own best interests

 

Remarks of Netanyahu come in response to article by columnist Jeffrey Goldberg in which he quotes Obama as saying repeatedly: ‘Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are.’

 

Middle East Online

Bad blood between key allies?

JERUSALEM - Only the people of Israel can decide who will represent their best interests, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday in remarks directed at US President Barack Obama a week before a general election.

"I think everyone knows that the citizens of Israel are the only ones who can decide who will faithfully represent the vital interests of the state," he said.

His remarks came in response to an article by prominent Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg in which he quoted Obama as saying repeatedly: "Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are."

Obama, he wrote, appeared to see Netanyahu as a "political coward" vis-a-vis the peace process with the Palestinians who was completely "captive to the settler lobby," and whose ongoing settlement activity was moving Israel "down a path toward near total isolation."

Senior figures from Netanyahu's ruling rightwing Likud party reacted furiously, accusing the US leader of "gross interference" in the upcoming election, which is widely expected to see Israelis reelect their hawkish prime minister.

"Over the last four years, we have faced tremendous pressure and we will continue to stand up for the vital interests of Israel and its security," Netanyahu told reporters on a tour of an army base near Gaza, his remarks broadcast on public radio.

Until now, there had been no official response to the article, which on Wednesday dominated the headlines in the newspapers as well as on Israel's main television and radio stations.

"This is gross interference by the US president in the elections in Israel," senior Likud officials told Israel HaYom, while others told The Jerusalem Post he was "taking revenge" for the Israeli leader's overt support for Obama's rival during the presidential race in November.

But Danny Danon, number five on the Likud list, put a positive spin on Obama's "intervention," saying it would chalk up more votes for the premier.

"Any external intervention attempt only brings us more seats," he told Yediot Aharonot.

Opposition figures leapt at the chance to attack Netanyahu.

"Anyone who still thinks things will be okay woke up this morning to a very clear and sharp statement by the US president, who says that Israel's prime minister is leading the state of Israel into severe isolation," said ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni, head of the centrist HaTnuah faction.

In the article, Goldberg wrote that Obama was unsurprised when Israel announced plans to build in E1, a highly sensitive area of West Bank land near Jerusalem, suggesting it was "what he has come to expect" from Netanyahu's "self-defeating policies."

Although the US would not cut off its aid to Israel, Obama was not likely to "waste his time on Mideast peace" and Israel could soon notice a "significant shift" on the diplomatic front, he wrote.

"It is in terms of American diplomatic protection -- among the Europeans and especially at the UN -- that Israel may one day soon notice a significant shift," he said, suggesting the US may fail to whip up votes against perceived anti-Israel resolutions, and could even itself abstain.

In an editorial, the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper said the piece provided serious food for thought for voters just six days before the election.

These statements "are food for thought, served up to Israeli citizens before they retreat into their shell of apathy and elect a right-wing government comprised of Likud, (the secular nationalist) Yisrael Beitenu, (the hardline religious) Jewish Home and the ultra-Orthodox parties, which will lead the country into a confrontation with Obama and the rest of the world."

 

Libya rivals meet for unity deal talks in Morocco

IS 'bulldozed' Iraq’s historic Nimrud

EU’s Mogherini 'Good deal' on Iran nuclear programme is near

Several Qaeda leaders killed in Syria regime attack

Dubai launches first 3D pavement art festival

South Sudan's warring leaders fail to reach deal

Some 28,000 ‘have fled’ Iraq's Tikrit

BP to invest $12 billion in Egypt gas fields

FBI calls for 'vigilance' against IS recruitment online

Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia reach basis of Nile water deal

Jewish tradition could help struggling Gaza farmers

Egypt Interior Minister replaced in cabinet reshuffle

Saudi Arabia urges coalition to fight jihadists 'on ground'

Algeria criminalises violence against women

Sisi replaces interior minister in cabinet reshuffle

Executions set 'unprecedented' pace in Saudi Arabia

Libya declares more than 10 oil fields ‘non-operational’ after IS attacks

Syria exiled opposition chief seeks to unite dissidents

US warns against sectarianism in Tikrit offensive

Thousands of Filipinos remain in Libya despite perilous situation

South Sudan peace talks hit deadlock ahead of deadline

Kerry seeks to allay Gulf states’ fears on Iran

Turkey will not take part in Iraq offensive to retake Mosul

Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen freed

Libya urges UN to lift arms embargo

Mali rebel groups urged to sign peace deal

At least 34 dead in Syria rebel attack on intel HQ

Assad likens himself to Superman

Libya declares force majeure at 11 oil fields

Iran’s regional influence ‘not negiotiable’

Women protest for peace ahead of Israel election

Concerns rise over civilians’ safety in Iraq military operation

UN invites Libya leaders for crisis talks in Algeria

Israel to double water quota to Gaza ‘within days’

Abbas: Palestinians ready to talk with "whoever" wins Israel election

Fire at Cairo convention centre injures 19 people

US, Iran wrap up three days of intense nuclear negotiations

EU reviews policy in response to Ukraine, Arab Spring

IAEA delegation to hold talks in Tehran on March 9

Tunisia rescues 86 African migrants at sea

Saudi executing at 'unprecedented' pace

Turkish Airlines plane skids off Nepal runway

British former marine 'killed' in Syria

Iran slams boring Netanyahu's continuous lie-spreading in US speech

'Saudi prince' New York apartment on sale for $48.5m