March 28th, 2010
09:52 AM ET
3 years ago

Obama adviser on Israel: 'There was no snub intended'

'Israel is a close, dear, and valued friend of the U.S., a great ally,' Obama adviser David Axelrod said.
'Israel is a close, dear, and valued friend of the U.S., a great ally,' Obama adviser David Axelrod said.

Washington (CNN) – The president’s recent closed-door meeting with Israel’s prime minister - which lacked the fanfare and niceties normally associated with greeting another world leader - was a working meeting where issues in the U.S.-Israeli relationship were discussed bluntly, White House senior adviser David Axelrod said.

Asked about the low-key way in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted at the White House last week, Axelrod dismissed any suggestion that the lack of formalities was intended to send a message to Israel.

“[T]here was no snub intended,” Axelrod said in an interview that airs Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“This was not about a ceremonial meeting,” Axelrod told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “This was a working meeting.”

Related: Obama, Netanyahu meet at White House

Axelrod added, “Look, Israel is a close, dear, and valued friend of the U.S., a great ally. That is an unshakeable bond. But sometimes part of friendship is expressing yourself bluntly.”

Asked why the United States did not simply withhold the billions of dollars in aid it gives Israel every year, the Obama adviser responded that the administration was working its way through its concerns with Israel. “We think we're doing it in the appropriate way,” he said, “And I'm confident that we will make progress. But we're going to make it by being blunt and straightforward, as allies are, and use the channel, the appropriate channels.”

Asked whether the U.S.-Israeli relationship was tense, Axelrod was again diplomatic in his response.

“As I said, I think the relationship ultimately is strong. But we are – we have an abiding interest in the long-term security of Israel and the region. And we're going to do what we can to provide leadership in that direction.”

The relationship between the two allies has appeared strained recently. Israel’s announcement of plans for new settlements in a disputed area in East Jerusalem, which was made during Vice President Biden’s visit to the Middle Eastern country, resulted in a stinging rebuke from Secretary of State Clinton. Some political observers suggested last week that Netanyahu’s low-key greeting from the White House was meant to send a message to Israel.

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soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Desmond in Canada

    The blunt truth is that israel's brutal occupation of Palestine for over sixty years, with all the misery and death involved, MUST end – for the sake of justice, for the sake of the Palestinians, for the sake of US and world peace. This was the single most decisive instigation for 9/11 and for the continued proliferation of terrorism. OBAMA KNOWS THAT!!!

    March 28, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Charlotte

    Well, hopefully part of the business meeting was a promise by Obama to withhold all US money from Israel so long as Israel continues to expand the illegal settlements. It's about time the US grew a pair and reminded Israel of the Golden Rule – he who has the gold makes the rules. We don't owe them anything and are not beholden to provide them with the billions we send them, when they petulantly refuse to consider our legitimate concerns. As for an ally in the Middle East, strategically we'd be far better off with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan as our allies. Except that we made the mistake of letting Israel obtain nuclear capability.

    March 28, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Florence

    I'm glad Axelrod brought up the point about in the days following Obama administration releasing a strong statement referencing Biden's humiliation everyone wanted Obama to keep it private. Now the press is calling for openess. Why didn't Obama and Netanhayu release a statement after the meeting; why there were no cameras; why didn't they have dinner. Or the rumor that went around to embarrass Obama is that he left the PM Netanhayu to fend for himself while Obama have dinner with Michelle. Turns out the FLOTUS was in NY with the girls. This is another false reporting and elevation of the negativity to increase viewership.

    There was no snub, Israel is the bully by thinking Obama will bend to there way of thinking. The Biden incident was no accident. Israel was sending a signal to Obama because they think AIPAC will put pressure on the administration to back down. Well it didn't turn out that way and Obama should stick to his guns and stop the injustice in the ME by bringing the two (Israel, Palestine) together to talk about peace.

    March 28, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. RTB

    Send in the marines.

    Israel has been brutalizing the Palestinians for decades. The latest blatant slap in the face to the U.S. and the rest of the world is a salient point that the present government of Israel is intent on grabbing more land from the Palestinian people.

    At the very least we should suspend any financial assistance to Israel. The smart thing would be for the rest of the civilized world send in troops to defend the land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians.

    March 28, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. annie against biased news

    The blunt truth is obama DID snub Israel and of course he did because Israel is one of our allies. obama saves all the niceness for our enemies. This land was given to Palestine by Israel when the Palestine were blocked from every arabic country – none would let them in and Israel felt sorry for them and gave them this strip of land. Just like the welfare crowd here in the states – give them and little and they will demand more and more and more. obama is intentionally out to destroy each and every one of our allies and our own country.

    March 28, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Quincy in Canada

    annie against biased news please get your facts straight. You don't take someone's house and call it yours, just because you got powerful friends,this is unethical and flat wrong. The people of Palestine have suffered enough, let's work for peace in God's land.

    March 28, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Artie

    Yeh RIGHT! The junta in Washington now is so drunk with arrogant power anything is possible and probable!

    March 28, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. from the middle

    Anni Against Biased News- Why don't you change your name to Annie Against Any Form Of The Truth? Israel took their land from the Palestinians. Israel was formed in the late 20th century. You can have your reasons for hating the US government, but you would be better served if you based them in FACTS!

    March 28, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Tim from NC

    Obama's hatred for Israel is now apparent.... It should be obvivous to everyone, even you libs'...... Israel is not 'occupying' anything other than the land they legally obtained when they were attacked by the Arabs.... You tend to forget just how Israel came into possession of this land dont you...... You forget how Israel is terrorized and attacked on a continous basis...... You need to realize, the Arabs are our enemies, would they mourn our demise? Or would they celebrate?????

    March 28, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. phoenix86

    No snub intended. Ignorance and ineptitude reign at the WH.

    March 28, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. Jodi

    he's not jewish and hosting a sedar, yet he snubs Netanyahu. hypocritical, no?

    March 28, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. Jews will rue the day they voted for Obama....

    Obama is selling out Israel........Note that Obama has never visited Israel as President but has found time to visit many Arab/Muslim countries...
    that says it all.

    March 28, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Jim

    Let's face it. Israel is the party that is keeping everything stirred up. The word "Settlement" is a euphemism for "stealing Palestinian Land and moving Israelis in." They have to stop or the Palestinians will continue to react violently to it. And the US shouldn't be giving them a bunch of money while they keep doing it.

    March 28, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. Moderate bias

    We own Israel. They may think that they're God's Chosen nation, but the day we pull out is the day they die. Israel has been pushing us around for too long and we've been the over-indulgent parents who let our brat do whatever it wants. This needs to stop. When we tell Israel to jump, they need to ask "how high?" When we tell Israel to stop settlements, they need to ask "how soon?" Israel has no other allies and is surrounded by enemies. They should learn their place.

    March 28, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. Tea Party Host

    Israel is also a massive welfare state. Did you know that they receive billions of dollars from American taxpayers annually in support of their socialist programs? Israel has a draft and allows open homosexuals to serve in its armed forces. They no longer have God's mandate because of it and that's why they need us. Their healthcare system is socialized to a point that would frighten the Russians. God has abandoned them because of it. We should as well, before He does the same to us.

    March 28, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. Fed Up

    Has anyone read the BIble lately? This President is more upset by a housing area in Israel than he is the nuclear problem in Iran. Hmmmm.

    March 28, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. CBR

    Amen, Mr. Axelrod. I agree with all that you said.

    March 28, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  18. Charles W. Skinner

    In other words, everybody knew what was going to happen going in. Pres. Obama would say "you have to pull out of the West Bank and Gaza, and stop building settlements in your own capital, and let Hamas shoot rockets at you without responding" and Prime Minister Netanyaho told Pres. Obama to go to Hell, and that Israel will defend its citizens in whatever way it sees fit, and likely told him that if Iran doesn't comply soon with the UN demands that it cease its nuclear program, that Israel WILL do something about it.

    The Israelis shouldn't discuss peace under threat of violence anymore. It's time to meet force with force. The Hamas leadership wants to complain about inappropriate response, how about the Israeli army kills 100 terrorists for every rocket that enters Israel, rolling tanks in every time it happens. When they can control their populace, and stop using terrorism as a bargaining chip, then the Israelis should talk, but not until at least 6 months have gone by without a single rocket attack or terrorist bombing.

    March 28, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. annie against biased news

    I cannot believe the hatred of the Jewish people on this blog and how uninformed the people hating them are! Looks like a lot of you have been brainwashed very thoroughly!

    March 28, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. Scott, Tucson

    Well what did you expect from a Muslim raised obama?

    March 28, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Since Israel thumbs its nose at the US and the Geneva Conventions and dozens of UN resolutions (like 242, which lies at the heart of the crisis), along with human decency as regards their shocking treatments of Gazans, since they attacked the USS Liberty in 1967 and got away with murder, yet again, since Israel agents were arrested in a public New York while filming 9-11 and CHEERING as the horror unfolded, and since they say they are "God's Chosen People" (which means the other 6.5 BILLION of us aren't in their view) I hope the U.S. cuts off the billions in cash and weapons and let's their "God" take care of them. Google "Jews and Rabbis against Israel or Zionism" for glimmers of hope that Jews around the world are realizing that Israel, daily, violates the core tenets of Judaism.

    March 28, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  22. Sniffit

    Jews are racists, pure and simple. If anything, THEY are the ones guilty in this situation

    March 28, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  23. Hector Alonso

    With Integrity,
    we might be still late
    to the Golden Gate.

    Without Integrity;
    we will arrive on time to hell.

    March 28, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. Sniffit

    @phoenix

    You would know ignorance and ineptitude when you see it huh

    March 28, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. Bill

    The republican party has become the party of hate, ignorance, greed, hypocrisy, lies and stubborn, childlike behavior... The majority of republicans are somewhat fanatical, delusional and don't know the facts, and make up their own reality... People like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Dick Cheney, the whole fox network and many others making false, outrageous statements over and over, and over without being challenged for the most part. And then people start believing that rubbish and don't listen to the truth.
    The republican's lost the election, yet they still act as if they are in control... People tend to forget that it's the republican's who took this country down the wrong path and created many problems, NOT solutions... The majority of people voted for change, but the republican's want to take the country backwards.

    The republican's wave and hide behind the flag while spewing out lies, ignorance and hate. And it seems like anyone who disagrees with them is not patriotic or a real American. In reality, they care more about being right than they do about this country. They spend more time name calling, pointing fingers and making false claims than they do coming up with solutions to make this a better country... Most seem more concerned about power, money and never being wrong. They care more about their party and being in power than they do about solving this country's many problems and that is just unacceptable and NOT patriotic, and very unamerican.

    It amazes me some of the ridiculous, just plain stupid statements that come out of the republicans... I don't understand how any normal person could take them serious and I don't understand why no one challenges them on their ignorant statements and lies. It was the republicans in the tea party who started violence on the Democrats and then try to turn the tables and say that the Democrats were provoking violence when just the opposite is true. Rush Limbaugh was telling people to "chase the bastards out of town". And then Palin and Beck make similar statements. Then the republicans flat out lied to make themselves look like the victims. And now many of them have claimed they won't cooperate with Barrack because he passed health care and they wanted to see him fail... Not only is that bad for this country, but it is a childish thing to say and sounds like a spoiled brat... The republicans are truly ignorant and should be held accountable for such statements like that. Most of them don't even know the facts about the health care bill.

    Republicans have changed greatly since the days of Ronald Reagan and it's time for them to get out of the way or go extinct like the dinosaurs.

    March 28, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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