By Sharmine Narwani
For Middle East watchers, the revelation that a major head of state called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “liar” is, well, not exactly news. French president Nicholas Sarkozy needs to get in line behind the many other politicians who have thrown up their arms over Netanyahu’s unusual – even for politics – propensity for duplicity.
Former Clinton White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart, in his book “The Truth About Camp David” calls the Israeli prime minister, “one of the most obnoxious individuals you’re going to come into – just a liar and a cheat. He could open his mouth and you could have no confidence that anything that came out of it was the truth.”
The latest brouhaha over Netanyahu’s character emerged at the G-20 meeting in Cannes last week, when reporters unintentionally caught three minutes of candid conversation between Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama. Here is the conversation according to the New York Times:
“I cannot stand him,” Mr. Sarkozy was quoted as saying. “He is a liar.”
Mr. Obama is reported to have replied, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
My reaction was two-fold. Firstly, why does the president of the United States have to “deal” with Netanyahu “every day?” Israel’s strategic value to the United States has never been less apparent at a time when its pariah value is on the rise globally. In 2010, this thinking entered the political mainstream when CENTCOM’s then- commander General David Petraeus and US Vice President Joe Biden publicly suggested that the Jewish state may even be a liability in certain vital policy areas. (more…)