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Sarkozy tells Obama that Netanyahu is a liar

10. November 2011. | 11:15

Source: Voice of Russia

"I cannot stand Netanyahu, he's a liar", Sarkozy told Obama. "You may be sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day", Obama replied.

In a private conversation that was accidentally broadcast to journalists during last week's G20 summit in Cannes French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President Barack Obama admitted that both of them were sick of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some analysts believe the incident could affect the Middle East peace talks.

"I cannot stand Netanyahu, he's a liar", Sarkozy told Obama. "You may be sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day", Obama replied.

The technical gaffe happened while the two presidents were in private discussions in a locked room before a press conference, while the Élysée staff were handing out translation sets to the waiting journalists. A staff member reportedly explained that the headphones to go with the translation sets were not yet being handed out because this would have allowed journalists to listen in on the private conversation which was still taking palce. Half a dozen journalists immediately plugged in their own headphones and overheard three minutes of this private exchange.

These hard-hitting remarks from the world leaders could have been triggered by Netanyahu‘s reluctance to resolve the Palestinian issue, believes the political scientist Boris Mezhuev.

"Netanyahu is not somaone Nikolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama had wanted to see as Israel’s Prime Minister. This was evident from the very beginning. The leader of the rightist Likud party holds even more radical views than Ariel Sharon with whom George Bush had at least been able to agree on some things. European leaders would like to negotiate the future Palestinian statehood with some Social Democrats, like the Labor Party, with those who are prepared to read compromises, prepared to accept Palestinians’ right to their own state and take steps towards this goal. The only thing Prime Minister Netanyahu is prepared to do is push for the expansion of settlements on Palestinian territories."

The conversation was not initially reported by the small group of journalists who overheard it because it was deemed to be private and off-the-record. The scandal could have been avoided if it were not for Israeli reporters. Unwilling to hush it up, they have given full publicity to the conversation.

The French Foreign Ministry has dismissed the cited quotes as rumors and stressed that the incident would not affect France’s role in the Middle East peace settlement. The situation itself could be compared to Wikileaks’ revelations – much ado about nothing, says the expert of the Institute for European Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladislav Belov.

"This was an unofficial statement. So, I think, Israel will be wise enough not to pay any attention to it. It could be compared to Wikileaks – not a single document published by Mr. Assange has made any impact on international relations. Even though the statements made by Wikileaks were a lot louder."

In any case, the conversation itself may indicate that the West is losing its patience with Israel and is prepared to resume the negotiating process with the Palestinian Autonomy.

France and the US may not see eye to eye on this though. On the 31st of October at the General conference of UNESCO France voted in favor of the Palestinian request for membership. This marked a success for the Palestinians in their broader thrust for recognition as a sovereign state in the U.N. system. Yet the US was angered by the voting and halted its funding for UNESCO.


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