American officials came to U.S. President Barack Obama’s defense on Wednesday against the daily onslaught by former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, who has made damaging statements about the president’s handling of Israel.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said on Army Radio that Oren’s depiction of dysfunction in the bilateral relationship and hostility toward Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “does not reflect the truth.”
Shapiro called Oren’s account, soon to be published in book form, an “imaginary version” of events, and said that he does “not agree with those who say that we do not have close coordination, and were not always in very close professional contact with the Israeli government, including the relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
Shapiro insisted that the relationship was “effective, and serving the interests of both countries, and even more than that — close.”
In a Wall Street Journal article this week, Oren wrote that Obama intentionally abandoned two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America: no public daylight between the two states, and no surprises. Reports on the book say that he writes Israel felt abandoned by Washington.
David Makovsky, a member of the State Department team that tried to broker a peace agreement with the Palestinians last year, said that “no daylight” was by no means a formal policy, and certainly not a reality.
“Aspirationally, there should be no surprises,” said Makovsky, who is now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East policy. “In all candor, this is not always the case on either side.”
Ilan Goldenberg, chief of staff for the U.S. Middle East peace team until last year, noted that Netanyahu’s public lobbying against the emerging nuclear deal with Iran has been a thorn in Washington’s side. He was urged to argue his case privately, but would not listen and continued a high-profile dissent, which has irritated the White House.
Oren was recently elected to the Knesset on the Kulanu party list.Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon, the current Finance minister, distanced himself from the fray. In a letter to the White House, Kahlon stated that Oren’s views are his alone, and do not represent the views of the party, Arutz Sheva reported.