Daily Israel Report

Ambassador Oren Says 'Rift' Comment Misunderstood

Israeli ambassador Michael Oren denies reporting “tectonic rift” between America and Israel, says comments were misunderstood.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 6/28/2010, 12:26 PM / Last Update: 6/28/2010, 1:04 PM

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Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has denied saying there is a “tectonic rift” in Israel-US ties. In an interview with the Washington Post printed Monday, Oren said his comments were taken out of context and poorly translated.

What he really said, Oren stated, was that there had been “a tectonic shift in American foreign and domestic policies” and that “Israel has to adjust” to the change. The word “shift” was mistranslated to “rift,” he said.

The difference between the two words “may be a subtlety that escaped the Israeli ear,” he suggested.

He pointed out that in a recent media interview, he had praised the Obama administration as “as good if not better” than many other American administrations when it came to Israel. His “tectonic shift” remark was meant to emphasize Obama's push for change, he said.

He confirmed reports that he had said that under the Obama administration, crucial foreign affairs decisions are made at the White House and not in the State Department. “This is one of the most centralized administrations in post-World War II history,” he added.

Oren spoke recently at the Foreign Ministry. Sources who heard his briefing reported that the ambassador said, “There is no crisis in Israel-US relations because in a crisis there are ups and downs. [Instead] relations are in a state of tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart.”

Oren's alleged remarks were quickly picked up by the Israeli and foreign media.