There is no doubt that President Obama has little appreciation for the relationship between the United States and Israel. Obama’s increased criticism of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over settlement building certainly has not improved the feelings between us and our chief ally in the Middle East. If things were not rocky enough between the two this embarrassing story about Obama and the French President Sarkozy trash talking Israel’s leader behind his back will send tensions to a whole new level (emphasis mine):
French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told US President Barack Obama that he could not “stand” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that he thinks the Israeli premier “is a liar.”
According to a Monday report in the French website “Arret sur Images,” after facing reporters for a G20 press conference on Thursday, the two presidents retired to a private room, to further discuss the matters of the day.
The conversation apparently began with President Obama criticizing Sarkozy for not having warned him that France would be voting in favor of the Palestinian membership bid in UNESCO despite Washington’s strong objection to the move.
The conversation then drifted to Netanyahu, at which time Sarkozy declared: “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.” According to the report, Obama replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
The remark was naturally meant to be said in confidence, but the two leaders’ microphones were accidently left on, making the would-be private comment embarrassingly public.
You might be wondering why this is just now getting out and where the audio take is. Ynet goes on to report that the journalists agreed it keep quiet about the incident:
The surprising lack of coverage may be explained by a report alleging that journalists present at the event were requested to sign an agreement to keep mum on the embarrassing comments. A Reuters reporter was among the journalists present and can confirm the veracity of the comments.
A member of the media confirmed Monday that “there were discussions between journalists and they agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue.”
He added that while it was annoying to have to refrain from publishing the information, the journalists are subject to precise rules of conduct.
It will be interested to hear how Obama or Jay Carney responds to this story. Better yet, it will be interesting to see if the media will turn a few minutes of their attention from the political assassination of Herman Cain to report this story at all.