Obama Says “No Thank You” to Netanyahu

For the first time ever, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit the United States as prime minister without being granted a personal meeting with the president.

The reason?

According to Israel’s daily, Haaretz, the White House declined Netanyahu’s request for such a meeting, a development which may indicate the growing personal divide between Obama and Netanyahu (who will be in the U.S. at the end of September for a U.N. conference).

An official in Jerusalem said that the prime minister’s office sent the White House a message stating that although Netanyahu will spend only two and a half days on U.S. soil, he is interested in meeting Obama and is willing to travel  to the U.S. capital specifically for that purpose.  The official added that the White House rejected the request and said that at this time Obama’s schedule does not allow for a meeting.

The White House’s response marks a new low in relations between Netanyahu and Obama, underscored by the fact that this is the first time Netanyahu will visit the U.S. as prime minister without meeting the president.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to ease the tension on Tuesday, saying that the differences between the U.S. and Israel should be ironed out “but behind closed doors.”

President Obama has many reasons to be upset with Netanyahu, from his derisive speech before a joint session of Congress in 2011to his public attacks on Obama’s Iran stance.

However, what may have sent Obama over the edge is the fact that, today, of all days – on the anniversary of 9/11 – Netanyahu chose to launch a veiled and public verbal attack on Obama’s Iran position:

Earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu launched an unprecedented verbal attack on the U.S. government over its stance on the Iranian nuclear program.

“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday.

“Now if Iran knows that there is no red line. If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs,” he said.  

The Obama administration, which has kept military intervention on the table, responded by stating that such issues would be better discussed in private, and not in public.

And then?

Rejected Netanyahu’s request to meet in private.

In other words, after today’s insensitive verbal assault by Netanyahu, on 9/11 no less, the President answered Israel’s request to meet privately with a simple response.

“No thank you.”

Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG

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About David Harris-Gershon

David Harris-Gershon – a blogger for Tikkun magazine and a freelance writer on Israel, the Middle East and America’s role in the region – has recently published work in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AlterNet, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Colorado Review and elsewhere. His memoir – What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? – is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (2013). He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and has worked extensively as an educator, teaching creative writing and Israeli History / Jewish Studies in university and high school classrooms. Follow David on Twitter @David_EHG

Posted on September 11, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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