Likud campaign chief Gideon Sa’ar has responded to a recent report by American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg that quotes U.S. President Barack Obama as saying, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are … Netanyahu is moving his country toward near-total isolation.”
“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will know how to work with [U.S. President Barack] Obama very well while at the same time safeguarding Israel’s interests,” Sa’ar, who is also Israel’s Education Minister, said Tuesday, according to Israel Hayom.
“Netanyahu has the edge over all the other candidates in the diplomatic arena too, not just the security and economic spheres,” Sa’ar said.
Goldberg, who has demonstrated high level access to the White House in previous reports on Israel-U.S. relations, wrote, “With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.”
“When informed about the Israeli decision [to announce construction plans in the E1 zone as a punishment for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' U.N. move], Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry. He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.
“The dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is poised to enter a new phase. On matters related to the Palestinians, the president seems to view the prime minister as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise.
“Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Obama’s nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, is said to be eager to re-energize the Middle East peace process, but Obama — who already has a Nobel Peace Prize — is thought to be considerably more wary. He views the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as weak, but he has become convinced that Netanyahu is so captive to the settler lobby, and so uninterested in making anything more than the slightest conciliatory gesture toward Palestinian moderates, that an investment of presidential interest in the peace process wouldn’t be a wise use of his time.
“Obama, since his time in the Senate, has been consistent in his analysis of Israel’s underlying challenge: If it doesn’t disentangle itself from the lives of West Bank Palestinians, the world will one day decide it is behaving as an apartheid state.”
So far no official response has been issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.