Courtesy of a hot microphone, journalists attending the G-20 last week heard President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy complaining about Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu.
The French media watch website “Arret sur Images” was first to report the conversation.
“Obama began by reproaching Sarkozy for not warning him in advance that France would vote in favour of Palestinian membership of UNESCO,” the website reported. “The conversation turned to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Sarkozy saying ,’I don’t want to see him anymore, he’s a liar.’
“To which President Obama replied: ‘You’ve had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day!’ Obama then asked Sarkozy to try to convince the Palestinians to slow down with their UN membership drive.”
The journalists who overheard the remarks did not initially report them, but since then other European media outlets have started to do so, including the BBC.
Reuters is reporting the comments, having confirmed them with one of its reporters who overheard them.
ABC News’ Alexander Marquardt reports that Israeli media outlets are covering the comments, with the Jerusalem Post writing that one of Netanyahu’s rival political parties, “Kadima, whose last Knesset campaign slogan was ‘Bibi, I don’t believe him,’ chose not to comment on the matter. ‘What Sarkozy said is more than enough,’ a party spokesman quipped.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.