'Claims of PM interfering in election harm US ties'

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

Netanyahu Steinitz 390 (photo credit: Reuters)
Netanyahu Steinitz 390
(photo credit: Reuters)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz slammed former prime minister Ehud Olmert's Wednesday accusation that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu interfered in the US election, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
Whoever raises such accusations, Steinitz said, wants to harm the US-Israel relationship, and Olmert's assertion that Netanyahu publicly endorsed Romney harms the deep ties between the two nations.
Following US President Barack Obama's reelection Tuesday night, 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."
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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