Man in the Middle — Israeli Ambassador’s Inside Account of Obama-Netanyahu Relationship

Dec 17, 2012 10:21am

In a lot of ways, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has been the man in the middle. Oren was born in New York and raised in New Jersey but gave up his American citizenship to take on the position of ambassador — a role that puts him squarely between two leaders who don’t always see eye to eye.

We spoke with Oren on this week’s Political Punch digital show:

“I’ll tell you that the relationship is friendly, is frank, sometimes it’s funny,” says Oren. “That doesn’t mean we’ve agreed on everything.”

After the election, Obama unequivocally supported what Israel was doing in Gaza, and the U.S. lobbied against the resolution for Palestinian statehood. Yet, after all of that, more settlements were announced, which left American supporters of Israel questioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relationship with Obama.

“If Palestinians are going to take unilateral actions in the U.N., we want to send a message that someday we might build there,” says Oren, who said they were not new settlements, but apartment blocks in existing settlements. “Now, there’s no building right now, this was just a preliminary plan, there’s a way of sending a very restrained message, and keeping the process going, not stopping the process.”

For more of this interview, including what could happen if Iran goes nuclear, check out this week’s Political Punch.

-Jake Tapper

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