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Sarkozy Calls Netanyahu a Liar: Are His Comments Justified?

Posted on the 09 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Sarkozy calls Netanyahu a liar: Are his comments justified?

Obama, Sarkozy and Netanyahu. Photocredit:

Oh dear. The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have been caught with their trousers down. Well, not literally, of couse. They thought they were having a private conversation during a discussion about Israel and Palestine at the G20 summit in Cannes, on 3rd November – but in fact, their conversation was being translated simultaneously and transmitted to journalists outside the room. The comments were first reported on the website Arret sur Images.

“I cannot bear him, he’s a liar,” said Nicolas Sarkozy about Benjamin Netanyahu, quoted on The Daily Telegraph

“You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day,” Barack Obama replied, quoted in the same story.

What the West really thinks? This has caused something of a kerfuffle, said Adrian Blomfield in The Daily Telegraph. Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu has been strained over the latter’s policy over building settlements; Sarkozy, though careful to show himself as a pro-Israeli politician, has in fact presided over a government that is highly critical of Netanyahu. Others are saying that all this shows just how Israel is truly seen in the West – as more of an obstacle in the peace process than the Palestinians.

Look carefully at Netanyahu. There’s no such thing as privacy any more, said The Times leader. Debate about this “gaffe” has been predictable – who comes off worse, Sarkozy or Obama? But neither of those should be worried – it’s Netanyahu who should be watching out, since it’s now been exposed that previously trustworthy allies think that he is a dislikeable, untrustworthy man. Israel is looking increasingly isolated, and it really needs to start thinking about its alliances – especially with Iran developing the bomb. Netanyahu is “the wrong leader at the wrong time.” He needs to change or be changed.

And thank God for the press. There may be no such thing as privacy, said Will Heaven in The Daily Telegraph – but none of the French papers managed to report it. Le Monde even mentioned the conversation – but “without the killer quotes.” It may have been “off the record”, but this seems to stem from fear of upsetting old Sarkozy.  And it’s a salutary lesson about more restrictions on the press – would we want David Cameron “throwing his weight around to suppress stories like this?”

Never mind Netanyahu – what about Abbas? And now we’ve heard what the West thinks, asked Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post, can Obama and Sarkozy justify their dislike? Netanyahu, in spite of the fact that he is the head of a rightwing coalition, has been “mostly responsive” to Obama, even agreeing to “Palestinian statehood”; he’s imposed a six-month moratorium on settlements in the West Bank. He’s accepted borders for a Palestinian state; he’s uprooting illegal West Bank outposts – he’s been “difficult”, but “cooperative”. In contrast, the President of Paliestine, Mahmoud Abbas, has been intransigent; whilst Netanyahu’s accepted an appeal to return to the negotiating table, Abbas has refused. The explanation for the leaders’ animus towards Netanyahu “must be personal,” since “in substance, it makes little sense.”

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