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CLOSER TO ROMNEY?
In private conversations, sources close to Netanyahu have voiced a clear preference for Obama’s opponent in the forthcoming election - Republican contender Mitt Romney.
Some Israeli press commentators say the right-wing Netanyahu is seeking to undermine Obama, with whom he has had notoriously testy relations, and bolster Romney, who has accused the White House of throwing “Israel under the bus”.
They have also been quick to play up the close ties between the Israeli leader and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of Romney’s most generous financial backers who also bankrolls the fervently pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily.
In his interview with Hayom, Netanyahu appears to take another swipe at Obama, questioning his administration’s assurance that it will not let Iran develop the bomb.
“But what if the United States doesn’t take action? That’s the question that must be asked,” he said.
An official in his entourage insisted that Netanyahu’s sole concern was Iran. “The Iranians are not taking any notice of the U.S. presidential elections, so we cannot afford to either.”
However, some senior members of the prime minister’s Cabinet have urged him to halt public criticism of Obama and have queried his insistence on setting red lines.
In a stinging rebuke, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein accused Netanyahu of not only trying to sway the U.S. election but of also trying to shunt the country into a war with Iran. “Netanyahu’s recent behavior is outrageous,” he wrote.
The same magazine in May heralded Netanyahu as the “King of Israel” on its front page.