The former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, has caused a diplomatic row between the two countries over his highly critical comments about President Barack Obama. Oren accused Obama of not supporting Israel.
Now Israeli cabinet ministers, including its Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who is the leader of Oren’s own Kulanu Party, have spoken out against Oren’s words. The American born Oren is now a member of the Knesset from the newly formed social welfare issue oriented Kulanu Party.
So what is all the furor about?
On Tuesday, Oren published an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, entitled “How Obama Abandoned Israel.” The title alone was provocative enough.
But in it he accused Mr. Obama of encouraging Palestinian intransigence in peace talks by attacking any building by Israel in settlements. Mr. Oren also criticized The President for failing to acknowledge the sacrifice that Israel made with its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.
He added that in 2009, “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.”
These and other examples were used to promote Oren’s argument that Obama has been bad for Israel.
The Wall Street Journal editorial is part of Oren’s campaign to promote his new book about his time as Israel’s ambassador in Washington.
Kahlon said that he asked the American ambassador in Israel Dan Shapiro to tell the president that Oren’s views are his alone and that, “Once I became aware of Michael Oren’s article I summoned him and he made it clear to me that what was written reflects his personal views.”
The Kulanu Party leader also pointed out that Oren’s book was written before he joined the Kulanu party.
Dan Shapiro reportedly asked Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu to formally apologize to President Obama, but netanyahu declined to do so.
Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who is from Netanyahu’s Likud Party and is also responsible for public diplomacy as there is an absence of a full time foreign minister in israel right now, said, “Oren’s claims are disconnected from reality. Oren is wrong to accuse President Obama of malicious intentions toward Israel. The president prevents harsh resolutions against Israeli from being passed at the UN, and actively tries to strengthen the security ties between the states. Saying that the president has abandoned Israel is a disconnected remark.”
Oren was born in America and moved to Israel as a young man where he served as an officer in the army. He relinquished his American citizenship when he became Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.