Shas leader Aryeh Deri has joined a long line of politicians who have blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government in recent days for creating what has been described as a rift between Israel and the Obama administration.
"I'm scared and worried," Deri said in an interview on Thursday. "The crisis could have been mitigated."
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Deri made the statements on the backdrop of reports that US President Barack Obama has voiced harsh criticism of Netanyahu in private talks with aides. The leader purportedly said that Netanyahu's policies on the settlements are leading Israel down a path of near-total isolation within the international community.
Deri said that while Jerusalem and Washington diverge in their positions on settlement construction, these differences do not warrant behavior that could compromise the ties between Israel and its closest ally.
Stopping short of naming names, Deri said that efforts mounted by individuals close to Netanyahu to block Obama's reelection were "a big mistake."
"It's no secret that all kinds of rich Jews invested tens of millions of dollars to topple Obama," Deri said. "These Jews are considered close to the Likud and to the prime minister."
He further cited Likud MKs as saying that "Obama isn't good for the Jews," noting that these kinds of statements "hurt us… I hope we can remedy the situation."
Red lines crossed
The ultra-Orthodox party leader's remarks came a day after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, in a rare show of disapproval for the government, blasted attempts to intervene in the US presidential elections.
"Unfortunately, Israeli politicians appeared to support Romney, and this way in effect we broke the iron-clad rule against intervening in the American election process," Ayalon said. "Therefore it's no wonder that politicians in the US are trying to intervene here.
"Red lines have been crossed in both elections," he said. "There has been unnecessary intervention by both sides."
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leveled even harsher criticism at Netanyahu for wrangling with Washington.
Olmert on Thursday blasted the incumbent prime minister for getting into "a blunt confrontation with the most powerful man in the world," suggesting that Israel isn't in a position to show contempt for the US, which provides the Jewish state with billions in military aid each year.
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