Netanyahu Denies Obama Slur

Israeli anti-nationalist media attack Netanyahu and back Obama; paper quotes unnamed aide to the Prime Minister as saying, “Obama is a disaster.”

Tags: Obama
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 4:04 PM

Protest against Obama's policy on Jerusalem
Protest against Obama's policy on Jerusalem
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vehemently denied Sunday morning that an aide commented, "We've got a real problem. You could say that Obama is the greatest disaster for Israel -- a strategic disaster.”

The alleged comment was headlined by Israel's largest daily, Yediot Acharonot, which also operates the Ynet website and has been a long-time foe of the Prime Minister while championing parties that favor eliminating a Jewish presence in most of Judea and Samaria. The daily is threatened by the freebie Israel Today that supports Netanyahu and is causing Yediot Acharonot to lose much of its circulation. Yediot also published the Shepard House acquisition as Obama and Netanyahu were about to meet last week, although it had been authorized in July 2009.

Along with the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, the two publications have published an onslaught of articles against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand for a total building freeze for Jews in areas of Jerusalem that the United States State Department calls “occupied.”

The Prime Minister’s office rejected the comment as the Cabinet met for its weekly meeting, but the story had already hit the headlines in American media. A statement issued by Netanyahu's office said, "The Prime Minister emphatically rejects the anonymous quotes about President Obama that a newspaper attributed to one of his confidantes, and he condemns them."

Prime Minister Netanyahu told reporters at the beginning of the Cabinet session, "I have heard over recent days anonymous and improper remarks in the media about the U.S. administration and American president. I want to say clearly, these comments are unacceptable to me. They do not come from anyone representing me.

“The relations between Israel and the United States are those of allies and friends, and are based on tradition spanning many years."

The Obama-Netanyahu meeting in the White House last week was headlined for its protocol as well as content. There was no press conference and no public handshake, indicating to virtually all journalists that President Obama was publicly snubbing Prime Minister Netanyahu for his stand against the State Department's and president’s views on the status of Jerusalem. The President's position is almost totally in line with that of the Palestinian Authority, which demands sovereignty over all of Jerusalem that was restored to Israel in the Six Day War of 1967.

Most analysts, as well as the American government, have rejected notions that President Obama is trying to undermine the Netanyahu government and bring about a new coalition led by Kadima, headed by Tzipi Livni. However, that is not the case regarding the Israeli leftist media, whose attacks on the government are fodder for attempts to isolate the government in the eyes of world media and the international community.

The Haaretz newspaper, on an almost daily basis, has published articles that call President Obama a “friend” and ridicule Israeli policy on a Jewish presence in all of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

It also has run at least three polls to show opposition to the Likud coalition that includes relatively nationalist parties.

After publishing a pro-Obama J Street poll, Haaretz posted a survey on Sunday that claimed that 51 percent of Israelis are dissatisfied with the Prime Minister, indicating they favor Obama's position. However, the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) noted that those who had a negative view of Netanyahu include those who are against a freeze of construction in Jerusalem and who want him to take a stronger stand.

Other results of the poll also contradict the impression that a majority are unhappy with his policy. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, a long-time supporter of Netanyahu and his policies, while only 20 percent were not satisfied.

In addition, the respondents were split on Labor party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, while the published results of the Haaretz poll did not include Livni. Previous polls have shown widespread and growing disappointment with her Kadima party leadership.