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White House tries to limit Netanyahu 'liar' damage
Published Thursday 10/11/2011 (updated) 11/11/2011 17:25
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US President Barack Obama waves as he is greeted by France's President
Nicolas Sarkozy before the start of the G20 Summit of major world economies
in Cannes November 3, 2011. (Reuters/Stefan Rousseau, Pool)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The White House sought on Wednesday to limit damage to US-Israel relations following revelations that French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel "a liar" in a private conversation with President Barack Obama.

"Our record speaks very clearly about the president's commitment to Israel and he has maintained a very close working relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu," White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters, referring to Obama.

Obama has had a difficult relationship with Netanyahu, who criticized him for pushing Israel too hard in the drive for a Middle East peace deal, straining Obama's standing with Jewish American voters as he campaigns for re-election next year.

Reporters covering the G20 summit in Cannes last week overheard French President Nicolas Sarkozy call Netanyahu a "liar" while talking to Obama.

Instead of contradicting Sarkozy's characterization of Netanyahu, Obama appeared to commiserate. "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you," the US president replied, according to the French interpreter.

The White House declined to comment on the Obama-Sarkozy conversation, citing its private nature.

The exchange was monitored by reporters listening on translation devices while they waited nearby to cover public remarks from the two leaders after their bilateral meeting.

Jewish American voters worried by Obama's views on Israel could hurt him in next year's general election.

They are a powerful voting bloc in Florida, a vital swing state that Obama won in 2008. In September, his Democrats lost a heavily Jewish New York congressional district that had been in the party's hands since the 1920s, with anti-Obama sentiment blamed for the swing.

While not commenting on the "liar" remark, the White House went out of its way to stress that Obama was fighting for Israel's interests throughout the G20 summit, which was otherwise preoccupied with a euro zone debt crisis.

"Our actions speak very loudly, which is that this president has taken strategic cooperation with Israel to unprecedented levels," Rhodes said.

"In so far as the Middle East came up at all at the G20, it was the president raising with other leaders his opposition to Palestinian membership in UN agencies," he added.

France voted in favor of a Palestinian request to join the UN cultural heritage agency UNESCO.

Obama chided him for that vote, according to reporting of their private conversation on a French website that Reuters has confirmed. The day the conversation took place, the PLO announced it they would not seek membership of any other UN agency.
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1 ) jabe7 / canada
10/11/2011 02:52
Forget principles! Appeasement! Keeping AIPAC and the Jewish vote on board is necessary for re-election in the warped thinking of power politics versus doing what is morally right. In moving down this path Obama has shown himself to be morally bankrupt - someone who is presently living a Faustian tragedy.

2 ) Fed up citizen / USA
10/11/2011 04:13
Whether it is in private or in public what was said can never be changed; like what Pilate said "What I have written I have written." The liar is the one who keeps changing his words like who promises change then changes promise. Lying is a virus that contaminates the White House. Obama is not less liar than Netanyahu and George W Bush.

3 ) Maureen / Australia
10/11/2011 06:08
There are probably many Jews in Israel who also have reason to believe Netanyahu is a liar.

4 ) Joe Fattal / USA
10/11/2011 07:51
At least Netanyahu knows by now he can fool himself eveytime but he can't fool everybody all the time.

5 ) silver / phil
10/11/2011 07:58
bibi is not a liar he is the greatest pirate in the med sea. some day he will be indicted for war crimes against palestine

6 ) Tissa / Sri Lanka
10/11/2011 09:50
Obama got caught red handed. Excuses will not matter.AIPAC will decide to have a better friend from next year. Good Bye Obama

7 ) Julie / USA
10/11/2011 10:05
turns out that Netanyahu isn't even a real name, it's an invented name! bibi's father's surname was Milokowski. he fabricated the name netanyahu after he migrated from POLAND to Palestine. yep! imagine that (see video & story at presstv.com Middle East news/Palestine, "Israel pursuing policies of Nazis"). oh, one last tidbit: in my opinion, bibi wasn't even jewish, he was born after his family had converted to zionism, which is NOT a religion. so bibi the barbarian zionazi has lied from birth.

8 ) Carlos / USA
10/11/2011 13:01
I object to giving billions to lying Israeli government. Did anyone see the video of Nuttyahoo talking to settlers bragging on how he lied to stop peace deal when he was prime minister 10 years ago. Not only is he a liar by Sarkozy he admits he lies and he laughs at the US for being told what to do by Israel. I object to israeli criminal activities in the world; nuclear proliferation, murder(lots of murders), war crimes, arrests of peace activists, piracy, kidnapping.

9 ) Mel / USA
10/11/2011 16:30
It's not just Obama who's morally broke.Truth is,post WW2,after the bankrupt British Empire passed its 'imperial' baton to D.C./Pentagon(as reward 4 closing WW2),all POTUS's have had varying levels of "moral bankruptcy" re: Nazi Israel ! It's a demand of US Zionism/corporate power,that POTUS's souls,US Constit.democracy & American integrity are sold,to the highest bidders/war mongers 4 more US global dominance.USFOB 'Israel' was useful for that,til it went rogue/bellicose liability,2 USNatSec.

10 ) Mel / USA
10/11/2011 16:50
Cont: Belligerent,pietist Zionists in EU/UK/US,all scratch each others backs to suit their own political/ideological ego's &short/medium power agendas,at massive long-term human,moral cost.They've all fed & pampered the Israel 'beast',shamelessly,to suit Western strategies. But,times are different now.US corporate imperialism is waning,power is shifting & US/EU/UK leaders need others,now,more than rogue-nuclear,belligerent,manic,Zionist Israel. 'Rethink-allies' time,methinks? 4 the 22ndCentury?

11 ) BravoMike / Somalia
10/11/2011 17:43
**SCANDAL** Two politicians caught speaking the truth...!

12 ) Amar / Australia
10/11/2011 18:01
Bibi is a liar! Serial Liar. I met him once as a student, 25 years ago and he was the UN Envoy. He pulled his charm, but you can see through him. As in life, your experience matters. Like Rabin, Sharon who are tough Warriors but have the balls to deal with Peace. All Bibi cared and still cares about is Bibi

13 ) American Back To The Indian / USA
10/11/2011 18:47
#11 LOL You are close to the right idea as politics and truth have nothing in common.

14 ) Colin Wright / USA
10/11/2011 18:54
'Jewish American voters worried by Obama's views on Israel...' This is a fantasy borne of a misunderstanding of Jews' feelings about Israel. Support for Obama among Jews has declined neither more nor less than it has among the general population. Obama, in other words, is letting himself be bullied.

15 ) Arnold / Canada
10/11/2011 21:07
Obama watches out for America. Sarkozy watches out for France. Ahmindinejad watches out for Iran. Each and everyone lies to each other and to their people. Each and everyone laughs at the other behind closed doors and in front of hopefully "dead mics". This time the two were caught. They are no better and no worse than Nethanyahu.

16 ) Colin Wright / USA
10/11/2011 21:42
To Fed up citizen #2 'Obama is not less liar than Netanyahu and George W Bush.' This ignores some nuances. Obama lies out of fear while Netanyahu lies out of choice. Which would be worse is another question.

17 ) sarah / Holland
10/11/2011 21:56
Finally he speaks the truth for once and now he try to soften his truth?

18 ) eporue / europe
11/11/2011 10:33
its funny... but merkel told him it straigh by phone already that he is a liar...
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