There were some legitimate questions about the veracity of this story last night, but Reuters has apparently confirmed it today. At the G-20 summit meeting earlier this month, a technical error reportedly broadcast a private conversation between President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to a roomful of reporters – including some undiplomatic carping about Benjamin Netanyahu:
“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama, unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation.
“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.
Israeli critics of Netanyahu weighed in on the comments in the Jerusalem Post, with Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon saying that he’s “embarrassed” that Bibi is shown such little respect by allies. But Obama should be the one most embarrassed by this faux pas, which he can expect to be used by Republican presidential candidates to attack his frosty relationship with Israel.
It’s hardly news that Obama and Netanyahu aren’t on friendly terms. But this is one of the more public displays of Obama’s hostility toward the Israeli prime minister, and the latest in a string of diplomatic clashes between the two. Obama’s record provides more than enough evidence that he’s not interested in dealing fairly with Israel, and these comments only add to that. Not only did Obama hand his opponents an easy attack with this, he also came off looking amateurish, unprofessional and catty.