The White House today declined to comment on a reported conversation between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama insulting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at last week’s G-20 Summit in France.
“I can’t look at him [Netanyahu] anymore, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama according to the French media website Arret sur Images.
“You’ve had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day,” Obama reportedly responded.
A handful of reporters overheard the conversation through an open microphone but decided not to report the comments because they were intended to be private. The conversation later leaked to the press.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on the conversation Tuesday. “What I can say more broadly is that this president’s position has been quite clear on the issue of efforts by the Palestinians to achieve through the United Nations what can only be achieved effectively through direct negotiations. And the president believes very firmly that both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, need to take those steps that bring them closer together to direct negotiations and not ones that make it harder to have that happen,” he said.
Before the conversation turned to Netanyahu, Obama reportedly criticized Sarkozy for not warning him in advance that France planned to vote in favor of Palestinian membership of UNESCO.
“Stepping back, I will say that it’s well known that the president and that the U.S. and France did not agree on the UNESCO vote regarding the Palestinians and that we — the president’s position, very firm position, has been that efforts to achieve U.N. membership or membership in U.N. agencies by the Palestinians were premature and counterproductive to the ultimate goal here, which is a negotiated peace between the two parties,” Carney said.