Michael Oren and Barack Obama.
(photo credit: REUTERS,JPOST STAFF)
The State Department’s furor at Kulanu MK and former ambassador to the US Michael Oren’s Wall Street Journal op-ed this week critical of US President Barack Obama’s Israel policies puzzled some government officials in Jerusalem on Thursday, with one calling the reaction “curious.”
The official noted that it was peculiar that the Obama administration was so concerned about the remarks of a former Israeli government official, but has been silent when former administration officials like Martin Indyk have been openly very critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Indyk has publicly criticized Netanyahu on several occasions since stepping down as the US Mideast envoy following the breakdown of the US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiations last year.
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro took Oren publicly to task in an Army Radio interview on Wednesday, characterizing as “not a reflection of the truth” Oren’s claim in his op-ed that Obama abandoned two long-held pillars of the US-Israel relationship: no daylight, and no surprises.
Oren has just written a book on his years as Israel’s ambassador to the US from 2009 to 2013.
State Department spokesman John Kirby seconded Shapiro’s comments at the daily press briefing in Washington on Wednesday, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry believes Oren’s views as represented in his piece to be “absolutely inaccurate and false, and doesn’t reflect what actually happened in the past.”
A senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office responded to the furor by saying Oren “is not a member of the government, and his recent article reflects his own views.”
The official added that Netanyahu has consistently expressed his appreciation, including during his speech to the US Congress in March, for all that Obama has done for Israel.
Shapiro reportedly asked Netanyahu, as well as other ministers, to publicly distance themselves from Oren’s comment. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) and Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) have done so.