What he said isn’t a surprise, the surprise is the fact he actually said it….
In a biting assessment of the Netanyahu government as interfering in American domestic politics, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer declared that relations between the top leaderships of the two countries have never been as bad as they are today.
Speaking to the opening session of the dovish J Street organization’s national summit in San Francisco on Saturday night, Kurtzer said, “I find it extraordinary over these past few years, the degree to which this government of Israel has interfered in our domestic politics in a way to which, if we had done the reverse, it would have created a firestorm. Unbelievable.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his ruling Likud have long been seen as indicating their antipathy to President Barack Obama and their strong preference for the Republican Party, in particular during the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican contender Mitt Romney.
“Unless, frankly, Israel’s leadership begins to understand that the United States is also a sovereign country,” Kurtzer said, “we’re going to continue to have problems.”
Kurtzer noted that while “the ties that bind us” in such spheres as security, intelligence and economic cooperation have never been better, “the political ties between our two governments have never been as fraught as they are today, because the ties at the top have never been as bad as they are today.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu, for reasons that only he can explain, does not like or trust the president of the United States. And the president of the United States, for reasons that he can explain, does not like or trust the prime minister of the state of Israel.”
Kurtzer, now a professor at Princeton, served as ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005, following a term as ambassador to Egypt during the Clinton administration.