Obama privately doubts Netanyahu's stewardship of Israel


In this handout photo from the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), U.S. President Barack Obama (R) talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on March 5, 2012 in Washington, DC. The two leaders discussed peace in the Middle East and Israel's growing concerns with Iran producing nuclear weapons.


Amos Ben Gershom

President Obama has allegedly said in private that he doubts Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that the nation "doesn’t know what its own best interests are." 

Bloomberg reporter Jeffrey Goldberg has said that the two allies are on shaky ground as Obama heads into his second and final term and Netanyahu is up for re-election. 

Goldberg's reporting is reportedly based on a briefing by White House senior officials, and is in line with a similar Daily Beast column by political pundit Peter Beinart which outlines the Obama Administration's growing frustration with Netanyahu. 

His article dominated the Israeli news cycle. The Channel 2 evening news asked whether Obama is becoming involved in the Israeli election next week.

Although there's been no official reaction, Ha'aretz reported unnamed Netanyahu associates as brushing off the American president's comments.

"He will continue to stand firm on Israel's national interests and will not make any compromises that will harm the security of Israeli citizens," the newspaper reported them as saying."

US-Israeli relations were most recently rocked by Netanyahu's recent decision to ignore a Supreme Court injunction by ordering the evacuation of a Palestinian outpost protesting Israeli settlements.

"When informed about the Israeli decision, Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry," Goldberg wrote.

"He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart," he added.

Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni jumped on Obama's comments Tuesday, saying that "You can love the US president or not, but the relationship with the US is important to us and part of our deterrence-related capabilities," YNet News reported

This is not the first time the White House has been critical of Israel's actions: when the building plans for the controversial E-1 corridor were first announced in November, the Obama administration reportedly said that "these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution," according to the Jerusalem Post.

More from GlobalPost: Israel: Is Netanyahu going 'crazy?'

Noga Tarnopolsky contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

[View the story "Obama expresses frustration with Bibi ahead of Israeli elections" on Storify]