Then-Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren arrives to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2013
Then-Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren arrives to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2013 © Nicholas Kamm - AFP/File
Then-Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren arrives to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2013
AFP
Last updated: June 18, 2015

US rejects 'false' claims of abandoning Israel

A top US official on Wednesday denounced "false" assertions by a former Israeli ambassador that the Obama administration has abandoned Israel, a traditional ally of the United States.

In an op-ed piece earlier this week, former Israeli envoy to the United States, Michael Oren, said President Barack Obama had dropped the core principles guiding Israeli-US ties of "no daylight, no surprises."

Oren, ambassador from 2009 to 2013, acknowledged that Israel blundered in many instances, but added that "while neither leader monopolized mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately."

"From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader," Oren wrote in Monday's Wall Street Journal.

State Department spokesman John Kirby insisted however that as Oren had only been the ambassador, he "had limited visibility into many of the private discussions and deliberations that he describes."

Secretary of State John Kerry believed that Oren's account, "particularly the account of President Obama's leadership in the US-Israeli relationship, is absolutely inaccurate and false, and doesn't reflect what actually happened in the past," Kirby told reporters.

Oren had pointed to Obama's first meeting in May 2009 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he abruptly demanded that Israel freeze settlement construction and accept a two-state solution.

Only weeks later, Obama travelled to the Middle East to address the Muslim world but did not make a stop in Israel, and broke with tradition by not giving Israeli leaders an advance copy of his speech.

The ultimate betrayal of the core principles was the discovery that US officials had held secret talks with arch-enemy Iran, Oren wrote.

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