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President Obama's Open Mic Gaffe

By: Brianna Keilar Email
By: Brianna Keilar Email

11/09/2011 -- An open mic during last week's G-20 summit caught President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy complaining about Israel's Prime Minister, according to a report by Reuters.

"I cannot bear Netanyahu. He's a liar" said Sarkozy. Obama, according to a French interpreter who was translating his remarks, replied: "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you."

The President didn't exactly come to the defense of Netanyahu, whom he most recently saw at the U.N. in September.

It's not surprising, says Martin Indyk, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

"It reveals the inner feelings of the president toward Prime Minister Netanyahu. I don't think it's any secret these two leaders have not gotten on from the first meeting on," said Indyk.

An oval office encounter this past May further revealed the frosty relationship between the leaders.

White House press secretary Jay Carney - in an off camera briefing - would not comment on the open mic gaffe.

He instead stressed the president's support of Israel, most recently in opposing a vote to give the Palestinian authority membership in the U.N.'s cultural agency, UNESCO; a move France supported.

It's an embarrassing incident, as both the U.S. and Israel keep a close eye on regime changes in the middle east, and on the growing threat of a nuclear Iran.

Indyk says, it may have no real affect on U.S.-Israel relations. "The subject is too serious to be affected by personalities. They agree on the nature of the threat, and they agree on the way to deal with it -- that is, by ratcheting up sanctions."

President Sarkozy's office had no comment on the exchange nor did Prime Minister Netanyahu's office.


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