US President Barack Obama has a big problem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, despite denials by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, former deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin said Tuesday.
Shapiro called reports about tension between the United States and Israel over Iran overheated and said the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu was “just what it needs to be.” But Beilin said he heard from his contacts in Washington that Netanyahu had crossed red lines.
“Whether the US administration admits it or not, they see Bibi [Netanyahu] as interfering in the US election and gambling on [Republican candidate Mitt] Romney winning,” Beilin said. “Shapiro says relations between countries are good, which is true. But the relations between the two leaders are very poor. I don’t remember it being so bad before, and Israel will pay a price for it.”
Beilin said the Obama administration was upset about the way Netanyahu received Romney in Israel, Romney’s fundraiser in Jerusalem and the prime minister’s close ties with the man spending billions to bring down the president: Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
While both countries downplayed the American decision to downgrade a joint drill set for next month, Beilin said it was a message to Netanyahu from Obama and not a technical matter. He said that unlike other prime ministers, Netanyahu cannot call the president when he needs him.
He said a call to save Israelis under siege at the its embassy in Cairo was an exception.
Beilin called Obama “Super Pro-Israel” and said Netanyahu was at fault for the poor relations because he did not accept Obama’s request to continue a 10-month West Bank construction moratorium. But he said he does blame Obama for failing to advance peace talks with the Palestinians and for making such a freeze a precondition for talks.