US President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “a pain in the ass” during a White House campaign meeting some six months before Obama came to Israel and reset his relationship with Netanyahu, according to a new book on the 2012 US presidential election.

Veteran political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann wrote in their newly released book Double Down that at a campaign meeting in the White House on September 30 Obama talked about Israel and the Palestinians.

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“We all know that Bibi Netanyahu is a pain in the ass, Obama said,” according to the book. “But the president blamed himself for accepting the distorted political prism through which every effort to achieve a settlement in the region was mediated.”

There is only one other brief reference to Netanyahu in the 499-page book. In 2010 the two journalists published a bestselling book about the 2008 presidential campaign called Game Change.

The Prime Minister’s Office had no comment.

The Netanyahu-Obama relationship, described frequently during Obama’s first term as “dysfunctional,” took a dramatic turn for the better when Obama came to Israel in March. The comments in the book attributed to Obama took place during a time of tension between the two leaders, with Netanyahu publicly chiding Obama for not drawing a redline on Iran, and at a time of numerous reports claiming Netanyahu was supporting Obama’s challenger Mitt Romney.

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