James Baker weighs in: I once barred Netanyahu from State Department

Former US Secretary of State James Baker says insult fly frequently between Israel and Washington, noting a 1990 incident when Netanyahu was banned from state office building.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
WASHINGTON – Insults fly frequently between Israel and the US – at least, between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his American colleagues, former secretary of state James Baker said.
“These kinds of things happen all the time,” Baker told CNN on Sunday, responding to a spike in tensions between Washington and Jerusalem after an unnamed US official was quoted insulting the prime minister.
As head of the State Department under president George H.W. Bush in 1990, Baker said that Netanyahu, then deputy foreign minister, was barred from the building after saying American foreign policy in the Middle East was “based on lies and distortions.”
“I barred him,” Baker said. “That may not be widely known.”
The Republican administration’s snub of Netanyahu was reported at the time, but Baker’s comments provide an institutional perspective on the US-Israel relationship as reports surface of unprecedented tensions between the two governments.
“There are always tensions in all foreign policy relationships, even with allies,” Baker told CNN’s Candy Crowley.
“But it can be overcome.”