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PM says conducting 'business as usual' with US

November 8, 2012 14:24

Finance Minister Steinitz slams former PM Olmert for accusing Netanyahu of publicly backing Romney in US election.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu with Yuval Steinitz

Netanyahu Steinitz 390. (photo credit:Reuters)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he is conducting "business as usual" with the United States two days after the US President Barack Obama's reelection for a second term.

"I've heard voices in recent days, of all places voices coming from among us, that are trying to create conflict between us and the United States. It won't help them; the alliance between Israel and United States is strong," Netanyahu said at the cornerstone laying of a hospital in Ashdod.

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Following Obama's reelection,  former prime minister Ehud Olmert told Jewish community leaders in New York that "The prime minister has a right to prefer one candidate over another, but it would be better, obviously if he kept it to himself. What took place this time was a breaking of all the rules, when our prime minister intervened in the US elections in the name of an American billionaire," a reference to Jewish-American casino magnate and Netanyahu-ally Sheldon Adelson.

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"Netanyahu's behavior in recent months brings up the question if Netanyahu has a friend in the White House, and I'm not sure," Olmert said. "This could be very critical in certain areas."

On Thursday, Israel radio reported, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz slammed Olmert, saying that whoever raises such accusations wants to harm the US-Israel relationship. Olmert's assertion that Netanyahu publicly endorsed Romney harms the deep ties between the two nations, Steinitz said.

Olmert's associates have said that he will decide on his political future following the US election, and Obama's reelection is encouraging to the former prime minister. He is expected to make an announcement soon after he returns to Israel after November 15.

Olmert's political prospects encountered new challenges Wednesday night when the State Attorney’s Office filed a Supreme Court appeal against the acquittals and light sentence he received over corruption charges.

If the state wins at the Supreme Court level, Olmert could be convicted of harsher crimes than he was at trial, and could even end up going to jail.

Lahav Harkov and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.

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