"Only the Israeli people will determine who best represents the State of Israel's vital interests," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The statement was made as a comment on harsh criticism by US President Barack Obama,
who – in closed doors briefings – told associates that "Israel
doesn’t know what its own best interests are."
The American president also said that Netanyahu's policies are leading Israel down a path of near-total isolation
within the international community.
Obama's remarks were reported by Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, who is considered to have highly reliable sources in the White House.
Speaking during a tour of the Gaza
vicinity sector, Netanyahu said that "Over the past four years Israel has withstood tremendous diplomatic pressures" by the United States and the international community.
"They insisted that we curb our demand for action on Iran;
that we withdraw back to the 1967 lines; that we divide Jerusalem – that we stop building in Jerusalem.
"We fought against those pressures. I will continue to safeguard Israel's vital interests, for its security." he said.
The American president reportedly leveled criticism at the Israeli premier following the government's announcement that it will pursue various construction plans in the contested E1 area,
despite the US and international community's stark opposition.
Israel announced its construction plans for the area – which includes east Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank – immediately after the UN upgraded the Palestinian Authority's status
to that of a nonmember observer state.
Goldberg reported that Obama was unfazed by Israel's reaction to the UN's decision, adding that the president told close advisors that he "had gotten used to such destructing impulses by Israel."
Strained relationship. Obama and Netanyahu (Archives)
Goldberg wrote: "On matters related to the Palestinians, the president seems to view the prime minister as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise."
Netanyahu and Obama's relationship has been strained for years and some US analysts have wondered aloud if the growing acrimony would have a detrimental effect on Israel's all-important relations with the US.
Such a clash would come at a tense time when regional developments appear to be working against Israel.
Israel and the US are seen as disagreeing over how and when to deal with Iran's suspect nuclear program, and Islamist parties that Israel perceives as hostile are gaining clout in the Middle East.
As the world deals with those issues, even Israel's close allies are getting increasingly fed up with what they see as defiant Israeli settlement construction on lands the Palestinians want for a state.
While the US will not cut off aid to Israel or waver on its commitment to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Goldberg wrote, Israel might not be able to count on US vetoes at the UN Security Council,
as it has in the past, when the world lines up against it.
The White House did not deny the harsh sentiments Goldberg put in Obama's mouth. The tone and timing of column suggested the US leader might be readying to play hardball with Netanyahu if the prime minister is re-elected – or conversely, wash his hands of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict altogether.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop