NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, March 22, 2015, 3:45 PM
Obama “has his priorities so screwed up, it’s unbelievable,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday, referring to his belief that the President should be focused on fighting ISIS instead of the Israeli election results.
President Obama faced intense backlash from Republicans on Sunday over his continued criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s tactics ahead of last week’s Israeli elections, with one prominent senator telling the President to end his “temper tantrum.”
“There was a free and fair democratic election, the only nation in the region that will have such a thing. The President should get over it,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President.”
“The President has his priorities so screwed up, it’s unbelievable,” McCain said, suggesting Obama should be focused on fighting ISIS instead of Israeli elections.
“It’s time that we work together with our Israeli friends and try to stem this tide of ISIS and Iranian movement throughout the region, which is threatening the very fabric of the region,” McCain said. “The least of your problems is what (Benjamin) Netanyahu said during an election campaign. If every politician were held to everything they say in a political campaign, obviously, that would be a topic of long discussion.”
When asked if he felt Obama was “letting his personal feelings toward Netanyahu get in the way of” policy issues, McCain couldn’t respond fiercely enough.
“I am convinced of it, because, either that, or he is delusional. I am not sure which,” he said.
House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also had stern words for Obama, saying that the President and his “administration should be better than this.”
President Obama delayed calling Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his congratulations for a reelection that left the Israeli Prime Minister with a larger margin of victory than almost anyone predicted.
“It’s not about (Netanyahu), it’s not about the (Obama) administration. This is about the mutual concern we have for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon,” McCarthy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The outpouring of disparagement from Republicans follows sustained criticism from Obama, of Netanyahu, in the aftermath of the Israeli premier’s reelection.
During his final days on the campaign trail — of what had been expected to be a very close race — Netanyahu vowed to block any prospect of a Palestinian state if he was reelected, and took a swipe at Israeli Arabs, claiming that high Arab turnout was putting his Likud Party “in danger.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swept to a stunning election victory last week, but infuriated the White House with his last-minute campaign tactics.
After his reelection, Netanyahu quickly backtracked on the comments — which had already prompted accusations across the world of bigotry and racism — explaining that he supported a two-state solution as long as the Palestinian government broke with Hamas — but not before the White House weighed in with scathing disapproval of the tactics.
Following the election, Obama’s chief spokesman trashed Netanyahu’s moves as “divisive,” while anonymous administration officials hinted the U.S. could pull support for Israel at the U.N.
The exchange also sparked rumors that officials affiliated with the Obama administration may have helped organize voter efforts for Israeli opposition parties — an assertion bolstered by a prominent pollster on Sunday.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the President and his “administration should be better than” their reaction to Netanyahu’s reelection.
“The State Department people in the end of January, early February, expedited visas for (Israeli) Arab leaders to come to the U.S. to learn how to vote,” John McLaughlin, who worked as a pollster for the Likud Party and Netanyahu, said on John Catsimatidis’ radio show, “The Cats Roundtable,” on AM-970 The Answer. “There were people in the United States that were organizing them to vote in one party so they would help the left-of-center candidate, Herzog, that the Obama Administration favored.”
President Obama, for his part, delayed a standard congratulatory call to Netanyahu for several days, and, in a wideranging interview with The Huffington Post published Saturday, claimed that he took Netanyahu “at his word when he said that (a two-state solution) wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership.”
“That’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Obama said in the interview.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer accused President Obama on Sunday of mischaracterizing Netanyahu’s comments ahead of Israeli elections.
Meanwhile, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., continued a public relations offensive on behalf of the Israeli government Sunday, in an attempt to smooth over tensions between the two traditionally allied countries.
“We have no better friend and ally than the U.S.,” Dermer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding a quick “yes” after he was asked whether the Obama administration “could trust Israel.”
Dermer, however, went on to accuse the White House of misrepresenting Netanyahu’s comments before the election.
“(Netanyahu) didn’t say what the President and others seem to suggest that he’s saying,” he said.
The ongoing back and forth between the White House and Netanyahu is just the latest development in a fraught relationship that has grown even more fragile due to ongoing talks between the U.S. Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Ties took a turn for the worst earlier this month when Netanyahu paid a controversial visit to Congress to discuss the dangers of the program. Obama did not meet with Netanyahu during his visit.