(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Just one day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama at the UN, in which Netanyahu thanked Obama for the signing of a $38 billion military aid package, Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi on Thursday panned the US president as "naive and messianic" towards Israel.
The Likud minister, who was appointed a minister without portfolio earlier in the year, said that there had been an "improvement" in Obama's stance towards the Jewish State in his second term, however he said that the president was "not acting as the world's strongest man, but as an employee of the Clinton campaign."
He also predicted that both Netanyahu and Obama were pleased to be rid of one another, despite the smiles on show for the cameras in New York.
The meeting between the two premiers is expected to be the final face-to-face parley before the end of Obama's second and final term in office.
Recounting the meeting, a senior White House official said the two men “never papered over their differences.” He said Obama reiterated the profound US concerns about the “corrosive effect” the settlements are having on the prospects of two states.
Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu meet on sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York
The official also said Obama raised “the continuance of the settlement activity as it enters the 50th year of occupation,” as well as his fears over a recent “spike” in violence in the conflict.
In his public statement during the meeting with Obama, Netanyahu thanked the president “for the extensive security and intelligence cooperation” between the two countries, adding that most people do not understand the “breadth and depth” of that cooperation.
“But I know, and I want to thank you on behalf of all of the people of Israel,” he said.
The Israel-US alliance, he added, “has grown decade after decade, through successive presidents, bipartisan Congress and with the overwhelming support of the American people. It is an unbreakable bond.”
However, the issue of Obama's intentions regarding a final push for a peace deal likely remained an elephant in the room
during the conversation.
US officials have maintained for months that Obama has not yet made up his mind whether or not he will deliver a speech before he leaves office on January 20 on what he believes should be the parameters of a future peace deal. He is also apparently undecided on whether the US would support, or veto, a new UN Security Council resolution on the issue.Danielle Ziri and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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