Bibi Insists Focus Is Iran, Not White House

Netanyahu Denies Poking Nose in U.S. Election

getty images

By Reuters

Published September 14, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday denied accusations he was interfering in U.S. politics after coming under fire for fiercely criticising Washington’s handling of Iran.

Relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama hit a new low this week after the Israeli leader said nations that failed to set red lines for Iran did not have the “moral right” to prevent Israel from launching a military strike.

He did not mention the United States by name, but the comments were clearly aimed at Obama and his administration.

Coming less than two months before a U.S. presidential election, critics accused Netanyahu of seeking to influence the vote - a charge the Israeli prime minister rejected in interviews published in local media on Friday.

“That’s nonsense, because what’s guiding me is not the election in the United States but the centrifuges in Iran,” he told Israel’s Hayom daily newspaper.

“If the Iranians … had stopped enriching material and preparing a bomb until the U.S. election was over, I would have been able to wait,” he added.

Israel and Western powers believe Iran is developing the technology to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this and says its nuclear project is entirely peaceful.

Netanyahu has constantly urged the United States and Europe to apply more pressure on Tehran, believing that only the threat of credible military action will persuade Iran to back down.

However, this week’s outspoken criticism - which followed days of incessant public demands for Washington to impose red lines on Iran - provoked a sharp response in parts of the U.S. press and a rare letter of admonishment from a U.S. senator.

“It appears that you have injected politics into one of the most profound security challenges of our time, Iran’s illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons,” California Democrat Barbara Boxer said, adding that she was one of Israel’s staunchest supporters.

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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.