Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the head of the Kulanu Party, sent a letter of apology to US Ambassador Dan Shapiro Wednesday for an op-ed piece written by former ambassador to the US Michael Oren, now a Kulanu MK, harshly criticizing President Barack Obama’s policies on Israel.
In the letter, the Kulanu head asked Shapiro to relay his appreciation to the president for his support of Israel’s economy and security.
Kahlon said the letter represented his position and that of his party, and that the position articulated by Oren represented his personal opinion, alone.
The letter came after Shapiro took on his former counterpart Oren in an Army Radio interview on Wednesday, saying his description of US-Israel ties under Obama “does not reflect the truth.”
Oren, who has just written a book on his years as Israel’s ambassador to the US from 2009-2013 during a period of strained relationship between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece Tuesday that Obama intentionally abandoned two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America: no public daylight between the two states, and no surprises.
Labeling Oren’s account in the Journal an “imaginary version” of events, Shapiro said in an Army Radio interview he does “not agree with those who say that we do not have close coordination, and were not always in very close professional contact with the Israeli government, including the relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
Asked how he would describe that relationship, Shapiro said “effective, and serving the interests of both countries, and even more than that – close.”
Challenged for calling the relationship between Netanyahu and Obama close, Shapiro said the very close relationship between the two countries’ military establishments and intelligence services does “not come from the sky, it comes from decisions made by these two leaders who respect one another, who know how to work together to serve their mutual interests.”
Shapiro, who began his comments by saying that Oren is a friend, said, “Clearly, I don’t agree with what he wrote,” while indicating that Oren is no longer an ambassador, but rather a “politician and an author who wants to sell books.”
“I can say, as an ambassador, that sometimes ambassadors have a very limited view of the conversations between the leaders and his description does not reflect the truth about what happened,” the US envoy said.