Netanyahu jabs at WH: Israelis know whatâ€™s best for Israel, thanks
posted at 6:01 pm on January 16, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Israelis are set to hit the polls for parliamentary elections on January 22nd, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a third term in office, and his prospects for reelection are looking fairly solid. His campaign is touting the rise of a nuclear Iran as priority numero uno, even over conflicts with the Palestinians, and recent polls are indicating that Netanyahu is the favorite leadership candidate for the coalition government.
Itâ€™s no secret that Netanyahu and Obama have a reportedly frosty relationship, but Bibi may be putting some of the presidentâ€™s pre-election testiness to his own advantage to help boost his own campaign and bolster his characteristic no-nonsense, straight-talking image:
A day after US columnist Jeffrey Goldberg quoted US President Barack Obama as saying that Israel under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not know what is in its own best interest, Netanyahu visited the Gaza border Wednesday, was told that December was the quietest month in the last 12 years, and essentially replied to Obama: â€śYes I do.â€ť
â€śI think everyone understands that only Israelâ€™s citizens will be the ones to determine who faithfully represents Israelâ€™s vital interests,â€ť Netanyahu said on a visit to an army base near Gaza in his first direct response to Obamaâ€™s reported criticism. â€śOver the last four years we stood up against strong pressure, and I will continue to do so for Israelâ€™s security.
Fox News points out that the circulation of Obamaâ€™s reported comments, far from being detrimental for Netanyahuâ€™s leadership prospects, might only help to band Israelis together further ahead of the election:
â€śObamaâ€™s comments may well have the reverse effect in that many Israelis, even if they are not Netanyahu supporters, they are certainly not Obama supporters and may feel they should now come out and vote for Bibi.â€ť
The remark, which was relayed as a private comment in a column written by Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg News, comes as Netanyahu faces an election of his own and is being widely viewed in Israel as meddlesome payback, not to mention a diplomatic trespass. But if that is the case, it may boomerang.
Senior representatives in Netanyahuâ€™s governing Likud party seethed, accusing Obama of â€śgross interference.â€ť But instead of undermining Netanyahuâ€™s campaign, Idan Kweller, political correspondent for Israelâ€™s high-profile Galay Tzahal radio, told FoxNews.com that the presidentâ€™s comments may have had the reverse effect.
Sen. Rand Paul, who recently visited Israel with his own 2016 presidential ambitions certainly in mind, echoed Netanyahuâ€™s sentiments earlier:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., described President Obama as â€śarrogant and presumptuousâ€ť for reportedly claiming to have a better understanding of that countryâ€™s best interests than Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Paul, who just returned from a trip to Israel, followed with a more general statement. â€ś[I]tâ€™s not American politiciansâ€™ business to be dictating the answers,â€ť he said. â€śI think itâ€™s just presumptuous and arrogant of us to think, well, weâ€™re going to go down to a roadmap of Jerusalem and decide where the neighborhoods can be expanded?â€ť