President Barack Obama's refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits the U.S. at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner is "silly" and pointless, former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams says.
"It's amazing for this White House in particular to be complaining this is an intervention in our politics." Abrams, who worked under President George W. Bush, said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"First of all, the speaker invited him.... This administration is intervening in their politics.
Do you think there's any Israeli who doesn't know that Obama would like Netanyahu to be defeated [in the upcoming election?] This is really just silly."
On March 3, Netanyahu is set to address Congress on the dangers of Iran’s growing nuclear program. He was invited by Boehner, but the invite was not coordinated with the Obama administration, which soon after revealed the president would not meet with Netanyahu.
Abrams, a senior fellow at The Council on Foreign Relations, believes Obama's reaction put Netanyahu in a ticklish situation.
"What do you want a foreign leader to do? If the speaker of the House says we would like you to come and speak to a joints session and if you accept we'll tell the White house about it," Abrams said.
"That's really what happened. He accepted, the speaker informed the White House and now the White House is trying to make a huge big deal out of this being some kind of insult. Why is it an insult?
"Why is an insult for foreign leaders speak to the United States Congress about a matter that's very important for us and critically important for his country? What's the insult?"
Abrams said when Netanyahu became Israel's prime minster nine months into the first term of the Obama administration, "the hostility that they showed to [him] from day one was not because he had done something.
"They just didn't like him because they said this guy is a right winger. They didn't like him before he had even become prime minister. He hadn't done anything yet and yet, the feeling of hostility was shown right at the start."
Abrams said Obama, "a very ideological president," is running a "very, very ideological administration."
"I'll give you an example … which is the change in Cuba policy, basically for no good reason," he said.
"It's quite clear the president wanted to do this from the day he got elected, but he couldn't do it because the Cubans had an American, Alan Gross, in prison.
"They had to wait until he got out of prison until the whole policy of five or six presidents for decades could be turned on its head."
Asked by Malzberg about the horrifying execution of a captured Jordanian pilot, who was burned alive by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, Abrams said:
"The brutality of … has turned Jordanian people around into supporting fighting ISIS and saying what kind of savages are these they would do something like that, someone who was supposed to be a fellow Muslim or Arab."
Abrams believes Obama's measured response to the killing was too restrained.
"There's such a thing as being too cool," he said.
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