Sen. John McCain is taking President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to task for negative comments the two made about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that were caught on a “hot mic” during the G-20 summit last week.
The Arizona Republican said an exchange between Mr. Obama and Mr. Sarkozy is “indicative of the attitude and policies that this administration has had toward Israel.”
“I happen to be a great admirer of Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Mr. McCain said on “Fox and Friends.” “I’ve known him for years, and Israel is under more pressure and probably in more danger than they’ve been since the ‘67 war and that kind of comment is not only not helpful, but indicative of some of the policies towards Israel that this administration has been part of.”
McCain was referring to reports, first in the French media but later carried by BBC and Reuters, that reporters covering the G-20 summit overheard a brief conversation between Mr. Obama and Mr.
Sarkozy about Mr. Netanyahu.
Mr. Obama reportedly chided Mr. Sarkozy for failing to warn him that France would vote in favor of Palestinian membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, an agency of the U.N. Then Mr. Sarkozy brought up Mr. Netanyahu, saying “I don’t want to see him anymore — he’s a liar.” Mr. Obama responded: “You’ve had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
Mr. Obama then asked Mr. Sarkozy to try to persuade Palestinians to slow down their attempt to become a full-fledged member of the United Nations, according to the reports.
When asked about the exchange Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to comment directly, saying that it is “well-known” that the U.S. and France disagree on the approach to admitting the Palestinians as full members of the U.N.
“The president’s position, very firm position, has been that efforts to achieve U.N. membership or membership in U.N. agencies by the Palestinians were premature and counterproductive to the ultimate goal here, which is a negotiated peace between the two parties,” he said.
Mr. McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the “French have always been like that” towards Israel, but said that doesn’t excuse Mr. Obama making such off-handed comments towards one of the U.S.’s strongest allies.
The senator said not even Mr. Obama’s most ardent supporter could “view the Israeli-Palestinian issue and peace in the region as anything but a total failure as part of this … administration.”