A group of Jewish congressmen demanded that the White House tone down its verbal attacks against Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was re-elected this month in democratic elections.
After the White House launched a verbal attack against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in frustration over his re-election in March as well as some comments he made during his campaign, Jewish congressmen from President Barack Obama’s party implored the American administration to curb the onslaught.
A group of Jewish House Democrats met with Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes last week, telling him that Obama and his aides had to stop acting as if Netanyahu’s comments were the only obstacle to the peace process, which has been at a stalemate for years. Not only has the US president, not expressed a word of disappointment in Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas, they continued, but Obama also threatened to support the PA in a bid for statehood at the UN, Politico reports.
Among those present were Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill), Ted Deutch (D-Fla), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-Calif), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla), Brad Sherman (D-Calif), Sander Levin (D-Mich) and Nita Lowey (D-N.).
The meeting with Rhodes was meant to be the latest in regular briefings with Jewish members of Congress about the Iran nuclear negotiations. Obama’s hostile approach towards Netanyahu was problematic, the congressmen told him, according to Politico.
“You want us to go out and say the administration’s got Israel’s back. How are you going to get us to say that when our constituents believe that the administration is stabbing Israel in the back?” a Democratic Jewish congressman commented later.
The White House had been hoping for their support in convincing the American people that a P5+1 deal with Iran would not endanger Israel.
Rhodes declined to comment. He reportedly left the meeting on the Hill after agreeing to relay the message to the president.
Obama tried to downplay his rift with Netanyahu at a news conference last week, stating that he had a “business-like” relationship with the Israeli leader.
Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) was invited to the meeting but did not attend, Politico reports, although he remains in regular contact with the Obama administration and the Israelis. Since the uproar began over Netanyahu’s speech at Congress on the Iranian nuclear threat, Israel has positioned himself as a mediator between Jewish representatives, the White House and the Israelis. He opined that the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office were slowly turning a corner in a more positive direction in their relationship.
“I believe that both understand that the dialogue needs to be defused and not intensified,” he said.