Former Israeli Ambassador To U.S. Michael Oren: Obama Abandoned Israel

Former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, who is currently serving in the Knesset, accused President Barak Obama on Tuesday of abandoning Israel since coming to the White House in 2008.

In an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Oren wrote that both Netanyahu and Obama made mistakes that damaged the ties between the two countries over the past six years, but charged that the U.S. president did so “deliberately.”

Oren penned the article, titled “How Obama Abandoned Israel,” as part of a campaign to promote his new memoir about his service as Israel’s ambassador to Washington, between 2009-2013.

He claimed that Obama has forsaken the two key principles in the ties between Israel and the U.S.: avoiding public discord and the commitment on the part of both sides not to surprise each other with policy changes.

In the piece, Oren notes that the only mistake that Netanyahu made on purpose was addressing the U.S. Congress two weeks before the Israeli elections. But he stresses that even this error came in response to mistakes Obama made since entering the White House. According to Oren, the announcements made with regard to settlement construction, including the incident that caused a crisis during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel in 2010, were made by midlevel officials without Netanyahu’s knowledge, and caught the prime minister off guard.

Oren writes that Obama “was never anti-Israel” and has bolstered the security cooperation between the two countries. However, he states that “immediately after his first inauguration, Mr. Obama put daylight between Israel and America.” Oren quotes statements Obama allegedly made to Jewish leaders in 2009: “When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs.”

Oren accuses Obama of ignoring the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and its implications, and the peace offers Israel put forth in 2000 and 2008, which were rejected by the Palestinians. He further claims that Obama voided the commitment that President George W. Bush made to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, that the major settlement blocs would remain a part of Israel in any future peace agreements. Instead, Obama insisted on a construction moratorium across the settlements.

Oren adds that Obama hasn’t demanded a thing from the Palestinians since coming to office. Despite the fact that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “violated all of his commitments,” Oren writes, “he never paid a price.”

“By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Mr. Netanyahu for building,” Oren says.

The former ambassador claims that Obama had forsaken the commitment to “no surprises” by “abruptly” demanding during his first meeting with Netanyahu in May 2009 that Israel freeze settlement construction and accept the two-state solution. He furthers posits that Obama caught Netanyahu off guard with his Cairo speech in June 2009. According to Oren, unlike his predecessors, Obama did not consult Netanyahu before making the speech and did not give the Israeli prime minister a copy of the address ahead of time to allow him to make comments.

Furthermore, Oren says that Obama abandoned a 40-year-old U.S. policy in May 2011 when he endorsed the 1967 lines with land swaps as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace. “If Mr. Netanyahu appeared to lecture the president the following day, it was because he had been assured by the White House, through me, that no such change would happen,” he writes.

Oren’s article includes accusations that Obama “stunned” Israel when he offered to sponsor a UN Security Council investigation of the settlements, and when he supported Egyptian and Turkish efforts to expose Israel’s nuclear secrets.

Oren also says Obama surprised Israel when he entered secret talks with Iran without briefing Netanyahu.

“‘The talks resulted in an interim agreement that the great majority of Israelis considered a ‘bad deal’ with an irrational, genocidal regime. Mr. Obama, though, insisted that Iran was a rational and potentially ‘very successful regional power,'” Oren writes.

He further claims that many Israelis were shocked when, after hearing from Obama time and again that “he ‘had their backs’ and ‘was not bluffing’ about the military option,” they watched him saying in a Channel 2 interview that a military solution can’t fix the Iranian threat.

2 replies
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    חבר הכנסת מייקל אורן (כולנו), לשעבר שגריר ישראל, בוושינגטון, מאשים את נשיא ארצות הברית ברק אובמה בנטישת ישראל מאז שנבחר לנשיא ונכנס לבית הלבן בשנת 2009.

    במאמר שפרסם בעיתון “וול סטריט ג’ורנל” טען אורן כי גם אובמה וגם ראש הממשלה נתניהו עשו טעויות ביחסי ישראל-ארה”ב בשש השנים האחרונות, אך לדבריו אובמה עשה אותן בכוונה תחילה.

    לדברי אורן, הנשיא האמריקני נטש שני עקרונות עיקריים שליוו במשך שנים את היחסים בין המדינות: הימנעות ממחלוקות פומביות ומחויבות של שני הצדדים לא להפתיע בשינויים של מדיניות החוץ.

    חבר הכנסת אורן מזכיר את נאומו של ראש הממשלה נתניהו בקונגרס האמריקני, שבועיים לפני הבחירות בישראל. הוא מציין כי ההחלטה לנאום היתה טעות אך מוסיף כי הנאום יצא לפעול בתגובה לטעויות שעשה אובמה מאז נכנס לבית הלבן.

    אורן מתייחס גם לזעם האמריקני על הבנייה ביהודה ושומרון ובמזרח ירושלים ומסביר כי ההודעות על הבנייה יצאו מ”פקידי ממשלה בדרגי ביניים” שהפתיעו גם את ראש ממשלת ישראל.

    הוא הדגיש כי אובמה מעולם לא היה אנטי־ישראלי אך לאחר השבעתו לתפקיד הנשיא הוא ”יצר פער בין ישראל לארה”ב”. במאמרו של אורן צוטט דברים שאמר אובמה בשנת 2009, ולפיהם “כאשר אין פער בין ישראל לארה”ב, ישראל יושבת בחוסר מעש, דבר שפוגע באמינות של ארה”ב מול מדינות ערב”.

    לדברי אורן, ממשל אובמה התעלם מההשלכות של עקירת היישובים בגוש קטיף וההצעות מרחיקות הלכת שהוצעו לפלסטינים ב-2000 וב-2008 ונדחו על ידם.

  2. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren revealed the depths of US President Barack Obama’s antagonism to Israel and abandonment of the policies underlying the alliance between the two countries in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

    Israel may have made “mistakes” according to Oren with questionably timed building announcements for Jewish housing in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samraria, but Obama made mistakes against Israel “deliberately.”

    “From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran,” wrote Oren. “Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.”

    Outlining these two principles, he noted the first was the concept of “no daylight,” by which the US and Israel avoided public disagreements so as not to encourage their common enemies to exploit the disharmony.

    Back in 2009, Oren recalls how Obama told American Jewish leaders, “when there is no daylight Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs,” a comment that ignored the 2005 Disengagement plan from Gaza and Israel’s previous two offers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to grant them a state.

    Obama also nixed former President George W. Bush’s promise to include major “settlement blocs” in Judea and Samaria within Israel’s borders according to any peace agreement, instead forcing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to impose total building freezes in those areas.

    Oren noted that as a result, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas torpedoed the peace talks by sealing a unity deal with Hamas, “but he never paid a price. By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Mr. Netanyahu for building in areas that even Palestinian negotiators had agreed would remain part of Israel.”

    Surprises galore

    “The other core principle was ‘no surprises,'” details Oren. “President Obama discarded it in his first meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, in May 2009, by abruptly demanding a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution. The following month the president traveled to the Middle East, pointedly skipping Israel and addressing the Muslim world from Cairo.”

    The former ambassador noted that Israeli leaders in the past were given forewarning about major US policy statements regarding the Middle East, and were able to give their opinions on them.

    “But Mr. Obama delivered his Cairo speech, with its unprecedented support for the Palestinians and its recognition of Iran’s right to nuclear power, without consulting Israel.”

    “Similarly, in May 2011, the president altered 40 years of U.S. policy by endorsing the 1967 lines with land swaps – formerly the Palestinian position – as the basis for peace-making,” continued Oren. “If Mr. Netanyahu appeared to lecture the president the following day, it was because he had been assured by the White House, through me, that no such change would happen.”

    Yet another “surprise” was when Obama offered to back a UN Security Council investigation of Israel’s communities in Judea and Samaria, and likewise offered “to back Egyptian and Turkish efforts to force Israel to reveal its alleged nuclear capabilities.”

    “The abandonment of the ‘no daylight’ and ‘no surprises’ principles climaxed over the Iranian nuclear program,” wrote Oren. “In 2014, Israel discovered that its primary ally had for months been secretly negotiating with its deadliest enemy.”

    “The past six years have seen successive crises in U.S.-Israeli relations, and there is a need to set the record straight. But the greater need is to ensure a future of minimal mistakes and prevent further erosion of our vital alliance,” he concluded.

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