WASHINGTON – Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
saying that his policies were ungrateful towards the US and were isolating Israel
on a global level.
Gates' harsh words were said during a meeting of the National Security Council Principals Committee, Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldber reported Tuesday.
Gates believes Netanyahu's government has offered the Obama administration "nothing in return" for its generous security aid, which includes access to top-quality weapons, assistance in developing missile-defense systems and high-level intelligence sharing.
The former defense secretary said that not only is Netanyahu ungrateful, but his polices were "endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel’s growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank."
Bloomberg added that Gates’s analysis met with no resistance from other committee members.
Unlikely partners. Netanyahu and Obama (Photo: AP)
This was not the first time Gates had expressed his frustration with Netanyahu's government: In 2010, when Israel announced new building plans for east Jerusalem during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, Gates said that Netanyahu should "call Obama when he was serious about negotiations."
The former defense chief was also irked by incessant squabbling with the prime minister over US arms sales to its Arab allies.
According to both Israeli and American sources, Netanyahu and Gates met in March, when the latter was visiting Israel. The PM reportedly lectured Gates at length on the possible dangers Israel may face following such arms deals.
According to the report, Gates resented Netanyahu’s tone and reminded him that the "sales were organized in consultation with Israel and pro-Israel members of Congress."
Washington's frustration with Israel is growing, the report hedged, and such feelings are becoming more poignant as the US is once again gearing to go to the mat for Israel – this time to thwart the Palestinian Authority's nearing bid
for recognition by the UN General Assembly.
The US has voiced its objection to the PA's unilateral move, which Washington believes would undermine the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and is likely to veto it in the Security Council.
Bloomberg's analyst believes that the US vote in the UN will be in spite of Netanyahu – not to help him.
Sources close to Netanyahu said Tuesday that Netanyahu's first concern is to look out for Israel's interests, adding he will continue to do so relentlessly.
"The prime minister has been calling for direct negotiations since he took office, and he's sure such talks could lead to a solution. Netanyahu insisted upon Israel's security needs and the demand to recognize it as a Jewish state," a Jerusalem source said.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report