Former Israeli ambassador to the US and current MK of Knesset Michael Oren issued a stinging rebuke to US President Barack Obama, accusing the leader of abandoning Israel.
In an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Oren offers insight into the relationship between Obama and the Jewish State gained during his time as ambassador. While Oren was quick to point out both Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both made “mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately.”
“From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama prompted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran,” Oren wrote. “Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader.”
The former ambassador pointed to “two core principles” purposely “abandoned” by Obama that “posed an even more fundamental challenge” that completely destroyed the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem.
“The first principle was ‘no daylight.’ The US and Israel always could disagree but never openly. Doing so would encourage common enemies and render Israel vulnerable,” he wrote.
While Oren did give credit to Obama for the “significantly strengthened security cooperation with the Jewish state” during his current tenure, he slammed the president for immediately putting daylight between Israel and the US after his first inauguration.
Oren criticized the president for voiding the George W. Bush’s administrations “commitment to include the major settlement blocs and Jews Jerusalem within Israel’s border in any peace agreement.”
“Instead, he insisted on a total freeze of Israeli construction in those Israel – ‘not a single brick,’ I later heard he ordered Mr. Netanyahu – while making no substantive demands of the Palestinians.”
Regarding Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the “violation of his commitment to the US,” Oren wonders why the PA president was never forced to pay a price for reneging on his promises. Instead, Netanyahu was “routinely condemned” by the White House for actions that even Palestinian negotiators had no problem with.
The second core principle that Obama abandoned is “no surprises.”
“President Obama discarded it in his first meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, in May 2009, by abruptly demanding a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution,” Oren wrote. “The following month, the president traveled to the Middle East, pointedly skipping Israel and addressing the Muslim world from Cairo.”
Obama’s Cairo speech showed “unprecedented support for the Palestinians and its recognition of Iran’s right to nuclear power, without consulting Israel.”
In yet another instance of Obama’s policy shift, Oren highlighted a May 2011 decision in which “the president altered 40 years of US policy by endorsing the 1967 lines with land swaps – formerly the Palestinian position – as the basis for peace-making.”
The culmination of the abandonment of these two main principles, for Oren, are highlighted in the Obama administration’s handling of the Iranian nuclear program. “The abandonment of the ‘no daylight’ and ‘no surprises’ principles climaxed over the Iranian nuclear program,” Oren explained.
“Finally, in 2014, Israel discovered that its primary ally had for months been secretly negotiating with its deadliest enemies. The talks resulted in an interim agreement that the great majority of Israeli considered a ‘bad deal’ with an irrational, genocidal regime,” he wrote. “Mr. Obama, though, insisted that Iran was a rational and potentially ‘very successful regional power.’”
With Obama’s mindset, “the daylight between Israel and the US could not have been more blinding.”
“And for Israelis who repeatedly heard the president pledge that he ‘had their backs’ and ‘was not bluffing’ about the military option, only to watch him tell an Israeli interviewer that ‘a military solution cannot fix’ the Iranian nuclear threat, the astonishment could not have been greater.”
To alleviate the battered relationship between the two allied nations, Oren believes “the US and Israel must restore the ‘no daylight’ and ‘no surprises’ principles.” Both side have no alternatives and must realize that “the greater need is to ensure a future of minimal mistakes and prevent erosion of our vital alliance.”