Frank, Angry Democrats Demand Netanyahu Back Off Slamming Obama

Monday, 24 Sep 2012 10:00 AM

By Patrick Hobin

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Top Jewish Democrats are saying it was “unwise” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to insert himself into the American presidential election and publicly complain about not being able to meet with President Barack Obama, The Hill reported.

Israeli officials put the White House on the defensive last week after complaining that Obama refused to adjust his schedule to meet with Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

''I don't think it's necessary for the president to rearrange his schedule,'' Rep. Henry Waxman of California, told The Hill. ''I didn't think it was appropriate for the prime minister to publicly get into a dispute with the president of the United States, since we're both very closely working together to impose sanctions and to force Iran to stop its development of a nuclear weapon,'' the Democrat said.

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''Maybe Netanyahu's for Romney. And he's making a mistake if he is,'' Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts told The Hill. ''I think it was unwise for him to do as much,'' he said, referring to Netanyahu’s airing of his complaint. ''I think they've pulled back a little bit.''

''I think Obama played it right,'' Frank added. ''The Israelis have to consider American public opinion; America's not ready to go to war until it's absolutely necessary….'I think it's a mistake from Israel's standpoint if they give the impression they're trying to push us into going to war. I don't think any pressure's going to work.''

Another Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York told The Hill, ''There are always things that are done on both sides – with us, with the Israelis – for domestic political consumption, for party building. I think there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to, and I would hope that in any kind of public rift – or the appearance of any kind of public rift – between the president and the prime minister would be heeled and taken care of behind the scenes. I have confidence that both countries would like to see that.''

Netanyahu has argued that the Iranian nuclear threat is guiding his actions, not politics.

"What's guiding me, contrary to what I have read in the United States, is not the American political calendar," Netanyahu told CNN. "It's the Iranian nuclear calendar."

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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized Obama’s refusal to meet with Netanyahu and 128 House Republicans wrote to Obama to urge him to reconsider, The Hill reported.

''We are astounded by your refusal to grant this request to one of our closest allies at such a critical time for that region,'' they wrote in a Sept. 13 letter, according to The Hill. ''The rejection of this request represents disturbing treatment of a vital partner and illustrates a lack of regard for the indispensable relationship between the United States and Israel and the current dynamics in the region which are essential to our national security.''


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