Officials from Israel's Likud party on Tuesday accused US president, Barack Obama, of interfering in internal Israeli affairs after he sharply criticised Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli media has reported senior Likud officials as saying that Obama's remarks aim at "swaying voters" in the upcoming Israeli elections given that polls show Netanyahu could easily win the election and form the next Israeli government. However, Likud member of Knesset, Danny Danon, said: "Any interference will just give us more seats."
American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, who is close to the US administration, wrote on the Bloomberg website that Obama has repeatedly criticised Netanyahu's policy. According to Goldberg, Obama has said: "Netanyahu will not look out for Israel's interests and will cause the international community to view Israel as a pariah state with the clear characteristics of an apartheid state."
Goldberg also asserted that, "On matters related to the Palestinians the President [Obama] seems to view the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise."
Regarding increasing Israeli settlements, Goldberg claimed that Obama has said: "Israel does not know what its own best interests are." Goldberg described Obama's reaction towards new settlement decisions as: "With each new settlement announcement, in Obama's view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near isolation."
The Israeli Jerusalem Post reported that according to informed sources, Netanyahu has responded carefully, saying that he would continue to protect the country's vital national security interests in the coming government that he would lead.
Likud members accuse Obama of "gross interference" in internal Israeli affairs. According to the Jerusalem Post, they are of the opinion that Obama is "taking revenge" against Netanyahu who apparently supported the former's Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in the US elections.
Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported Likud officials as saying: "Obama has to know that Netanyahu is the future Prime Minister and he has to deal with him."
After Goldberg's remarks, former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, addressed a press conference during which she raised serious fears over Netanyahu's policies saying, "All of the people of Israel should have been woken up by Obama saying the Prime Minister was leading Israel to grave isolation."
"As an Israeli, it is hard for me to hear it, but it is important to know that this is happening. If people do not change their vote, Netanyahu will continue leading us to isolation, violence and a poorer economy, because it is all connected", she said.