In advance of an exclusive interview with President Barack Obama, Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan interviewed the people who were most close to the president in the past years, finding out what happened to the US-Israel relationship and what was really said behind closed doors.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro recalled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech before a joint session of congress last march as the tipping point in the frayed relationship between the two administrations. “We got a call from the House of Representatives, and we were very surprised,” he said, adding it was certainly not the best example of communications between two countries.
“We try not to surprise each other. I don’t intend to scare or warn anyone. Our commitment to friendship and the security of Israel is always there, even when there is tension between us,” said Shapiro.
Obama’s close advisor David Axelrod was more critical of Netanyahu.
“The world of politics everywhere is divided into two categories: the first and more common is the people who run for public office because they want to be somebody,” he explained. “A smaller group is made of respectable people who run for public office because they want to do something – something positive. Shape the future in a positive way. I think Benjamin Netanyahu completely falls in the first category. He is a great politician. He knows what he needs to do to get through the next election. But it seems to me that Israel has to think about what they need to do to get through the next generation.”
He also recalled Obama venting in a moment of contemplation, telling him ‘You know, I think I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office. For people to say that I am anti-Israel, or, even worse, anti-Semitic, it hurts.’
In a more in depth interview with Martin Indyk, U.S. Special Envoy for the Israeli–Palestinian Negotiations from 2013 to 2014, the latter claimed that “Israelis are ungrateful to this president.”
“They never appreciated his rule whereby nothing will harm the security of Israel,” he said. “Obama did not manage to get that statement out so that the Israelis can really feel it. You are an emotional nation, not a rational nation. You work from your gut and not your mind. “
When asked about Netanyahu’s speech to congress, Indyk said: “The Prime Minister really stuck his finger in President Obama’s eye, and this is a disturbing development. If Israel is really threatened by Iran, Netanyahu had to do things that would ensure the security of Israel, and the first step is to ensure that the relationship with the US is on safe ground. He needs to read the map, because if he fails, he will destroy the relationship, Israel will open a gap between then and their best friend and most important strategic partner.”
The interview with President Obama will be aired Tuesday evening after Israel’s evening news broadcast on Channel 2.