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."

 

Saudi Arabia foils suicide bombing against US embassy in Riyadh

Kerry meets Zarif on Iran nuclear deal, Yemen crisis

UN blames Israel for Gaza shelter attacks

New rebel alliance ups the ante on Syria regime

Qatar unveils world’s biggest environment project

Syria defence minister starts official visit to Iran

Morocco arrests four people over 'burning alive' fatwa

Arab Israelis observe general strike over house demolitions

IS Libya killings videos haunts asylum seekers in Israel

Gulf foreign ministers set to meet with focus on Yemen war

Iran leads NAM calls for Israel to give up nuclear weapons

UN: Israeli actions killed 44 Palestinians at UN shelters

Journalists face ‘deadliest period’ in recent history

Leading member of Syria ‘tolerated’ opposition escapes to Spain

Arab coalition adopts two-pronged strategy to resolve Yemen conflict

‘Islamic State’ stones two men to death in Iraq

Syrian rock bands finding safety in Lebanon

Coalition strikes continue as bread, medicine run short in Yemen

Guantanamo ex-inmates demand compensation from US

Novelists withdraw from NY gala in Charlie Hebdo protest

Islamist rebels overrun army base in Syria Idlib province

Iraq forces suffer heavy losses in battle of Ramadi

In new provocation, Iran Guards chief likens Saudi Arabia to Israel

Sudan president reelected with more than 94% of vote

Israel charges soldiers for theft in Gaza war

First Saudi National Guards deployed on Yemen border zone

Israel invites tenders for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes

Sudan to unveil election results

Sudan accuses UNAMID of killing civilians in Darfur

Turkey rounds up 350 migrants en route to Europe

Iraq army announces ‘progress’ in Anbar province

Will Somalia Shebab choose Qaeda or Islamic State?

Abbas condemns Israel killing of two young Palestinians in separate incidents

Civilian massacre in Syria northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur

New UN envoy looks to revive talks as battles intensify across Yemen

‘Islamic State’ suicide bombers target Iraq-Jordan crossing

Four Egypt Islamists killed while preparing bombs

Extremist groups capture last major regime holdout in northwest Syria

‘Islamic State’ kills Iraq senior officers in Anbar province

Deadly fighting rages in Yemen southern towns

Entrepreneurs encourage people to ‘buy Syrian’

Over 100 children killed in Yemen since March 26

Libya militia alliance 'carries out air raids' against IS

UN 'confident' rebels will sign Mali peace deal

Petraeus gets two years probation for info leak