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Former Israeli Ambassador to Washington: President Obama Intentionally Ruined Relations with Israel

obMK (Kulanu) Dr. Michael Oren is a former Israeli Ambassador to Washington, DC. He served in that position until the end of 2013 and is now a Member of Knesset in the Kulanu party headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. In his column in the Wall Street Journal, Oren explains “Nobody has a monopoly on making mistakes.”

He explains that during his tenure as ambassador, he was frequently asked to point a finger of blame at US President Barak Obama or Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as being responsible for the break down in relations between the United States and Israel. He explains that his response was honest when he told reporters that both leaders had made their share of mistakes, adding “but only one leader made them deliberately”.

Oren feels Israel erred regarding construction in areas in Yerushalayim, Yehuda and Shomron viewed as occupied by the international community. He reminds readers that this news was released to the media during visits by Vice President Joe Biden, causing Biden, who he labels “a solid friend of Israel”, significant embarrassment.

Oren then refers to the May 2011 meeting in the Oval Office when the prime minister lectured the US leader about the peace process. At the time it was perceived that Netanyahu was backing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

It is pointed out that many Israeli faux pas were not committed personally by the prime minister, but midlevel and other officials. The prime minister’s one “premeditated misstep” was his address to Congress. Oren adds he recommended against it.

Oren cites that disagreements between Israel and Washington are not new, but usually not openly for doing so encourages common enemies and thereby increases Israel’s vulnerability. Oren states Mr. Obama was never anti-Israel, and he significantly strengthened security cooperation with Jerusalem.

However things changed in 2009, as the US president told American Jewish leaders, “Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs.”

Obama failed to mention the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and areas of Shomron, he failed to mention previous generous offers made to PA leaders and rejected, and he failed to mention what previous US presidents accepted, the fact that large settlement blocs would remain following a final status agreement with the PA (Palestinian Authority).

Oren states that the statements made by Obama led to PA Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) boycotting talks with Israel and mending fences with Hamas.

In May 2011, Obama ended 40 years of US policy when he endorsed 1967 border land exchanges towards achieving peace.

Oren highlights that the abandonment of the “no daylight” (no disputes in public) and “no surprises” reached new heights surrounding the disagreement between the two leaders regarding the Iranian nuclear program. This was culminated with the discovery in 2014 that Israel’s main ally had been negotiating with Iran in secret for months. That interim agreement was labeled the “bad deal” by the prime minister.

The situation continued to deteriorate as the dispute or Oren’s “daylight” was being played out in the media daily.

“The past six years have seen successive crises in US-Israeli relations, and there is a need to set the record straight. But the greater need is to ensure a future of minimal mistakes and prevent further erosion of our vital alliance”.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

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