Photo: White House
President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were caught on a live microphone criticising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while at the G-20 meeting last week.According to a report in a French newspaper picked up by the Israeli press, Sarkozy told Obama: “I cannot stand [Netanyahu]. He is a liar.”
Obama is said to have replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
The report is hardly surprising as neither world leader has a particularly good relationship with Netanyahu.
Obama has faced criticism domestically for not being a strong enough supporter of Israel — a factor in the Democrats’ loss of the New York 9th Congressional district earlier this year. The exchange is likely to resurrect charges that Obama is soft on Israel less than a year before his reelection.
POLITICO’s Ben Smith got in touch with Le Monde reporter Arnaud Leparmentier, who was sourced as the person who overheard the conversation. He told Smith that he did not overhear the conversation, but rather got it from a “source.”
The White House has yet to comment on the report.
UPDATE: The quotes first appeared in Arret Sur Images in French, and they were likely translated from English (as Obama does not speak French), and then back to English — so they may not be perfect quotes.
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