Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used his news conference on Saturday night to debunk a report that on Friday he had scolded US Ambassador Dan Shapiro.
Associated Press reported that Netanyahu allegedly warned the American diplomat in a sharp telephone conversation he now expected the full support of Washington and the rest of the international community for Israel’s counter terror operation in Gaza, following the abduction by Hamas terrorists of IDF 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.
Two other IDF soldiers were killed while Goldin was dragged into a terror tunnel in the ambush that took place in the southern Gaza border town of Rafah during a 72-hour humanitarian cease fire forced on Israel by the United States and United Nations. The report claimed Shapiro was told by Netanyahu the Obama administration was not to “ever second guess me again” when it came to dealing with Hamas.
But after the Sabbath on Saturday evening, Netanyahu said the report was “full of inaccuracies” and in response to a question from a CBS reporter, was filled with praise for Washington, the president and the ambassador.
“Well, first, let me make a general statement about our relationship with the United States. I think the United States has been terrific. I think it’s offered terrific support for Israel from the level of Ambassador Dan Shapiro.
“I’ve always said he’s a great ambassador, I say it again today. The just untiring efforts of Secretary [John] Kerry with whom I speak several times a day in trying to help Israel and the efforts of President [Barack] Obama who has made, I think, consistent statements about Israel’s right to defend itself, his statement yesterday against Hamas, his unequivocal stand with Israel on our right to defend ourselves against tunnels, against rockets and all the other terror instruments that Hamas is leveling at us.
“The United States has given us tremendous support, material support with Iron Dome, not only the one that we received, but now both houses of Congress with the support of the Administration have agreed to the request that I made for an additional $225 million for additional Iron Dome protection. That is a lot of support and we deeply appreciate it, and that is the substance of our relationship.
“That’s the tone of our relationship, which gets to the question of these reports that are not only of my conversation with Ambassador Shapiro but also with the President that are full of incorrections, (sic) full of distortions and are wrong both in tone and in substance.
“The right tone, the right substance is the support that we are getting as we speak from the United States of America, and I appreciate it deeply.”
On Friday, clearly, there was some kind of communication. Obama issued a very clear statement of support at his news briefing in Washington and put a swift signature on an unanimously-passed bill for additional Iron Dome funding just before Congress went to recess.
The president also reiterated a statement he made while touring Sderot prior to entering the White House for the very first time: “No country can tolerate missiles raining down on its cities.” This time, however, he also noted that it is also impossible to live with tunnels being dug under one’s land in order to carry out terrorist attacks against the population.