Netanyahu surprised by Defense Ministry's criticism of Obama

Netanyahu aide reportedly tells Ambassador Shapiro he learned about the Defense Ministry's statement that criticized Obama from the media.

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Elad Benari,

Netanyahu and Obama in the White House
Netanyahu and Obama in the White House
Reuters

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu learned about the Defense Ministry's statement that criticized U.S. President Barack Obama from the media, his aide told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on Friday, according to Haaretz.

The newspaper reported that a senior aide to Netanyahu called Shapiro on Friday night and told him that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman did not coordinate the statement with the prime minister and did not brief him on it.

In the unusual statement released on Friday afternoon, the Defense Ministry rejected Obama's claim from a day earlier that Israeli officials believe the nuclear deal with Iran has improved security in the "The Israeli defense establishment believes that agreements have value only if they are based on the existing realities, and have no value if the facts on the ground are completely opposite of those upon which the agreement rests," the statement read.

"The Munich Agreement did not prevent the Second World War and the Holocaust, precisely because their basic premise, that Nazi Germany could be a partner to some agreement, was incorrect and because the world's leaders at the time ignored the blunt remarks of Hitler and other Nazi leaders," it added.

According to Haaretz, the aide told Shapiro that Netanyahu was surprised to learn about the remarks from the media, and mentioned the statement the prime minister's bureau released shortly after.

In that statement, Netanyahu distanced himself from the Defense Ministry remarks, and stressed that “the Israeli position on the Iran deal remains the same, but the prime minister staunchly believes that Israel has no ally more important than the U.S.”

Obama said during a press conference at the Department of Defense on Thursday that even senior Israeli defense officials acknowledge that the nuclear deal with Iran has had a positive outcome. He referred to statements by IDF chief Gadi Eizenkot, who has repeatedly said over the past year that the deal has reduced the threat level faced by Israel.

Obama's comments were not the first time that an American official has quoted Israeli security officials in justifying the nuclear deal.

Secretary of State John Kerry in February cited comments by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot as proof that the nuclear deal with Iran has improved Israel's security.