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Netanyahu is one of the ‘deepest disappointments’ in the Middle East, says Obama


US President Barack Obama has described Israel’s prime minister as one of the “deepest disappointments” in the Middle East. Obama’s opinion has been revealed in a 60-page report — “Obama’s Doctrine” — published in The Atlantic magazine by US-Israeli journalist Jeffrey Goldberg on Thursday.

Based on long hours of interviews with Obama and his aides in the White House, Goldberg pointed out Obama’s impatience with Netanyahu’s “condescending” behaviour and habit of trying to avoid the subject at hand. In one case, this was the issue of peace negotiations.

On one occasion, when the Israeli politician “launched into something of a lecture about the dangers of the brutal region in which he lives”, the president “interrupted Netanyahu: ‘Bibi, you have to understand something,’ he said. ‘I’m the African-American son of a single mother, and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House. I managed to get elected president of the United States. You think I do not understand what you are talking about, but I do.’”

According to Goldberg’s account, Obama thinks that we should “all stop pretending that the cause of the Middle East’s problems is Israel.” Nevertheless, Obama believes that “statehood and dignity for the Palestinians” is the way to solve the issue. “I was hoping that my speech could trigger a discussion, could create space for Muslims to address the real problems they are confronting,” said the president. There are “problems of governance”, he claimed, as well as “the fact that some currents of Islam have not gone through a reformation that would help people adapt their religious doctrines to modernity.”

Obama thought that he could communicate that the US is not standing in the way of this “progress; that we would help, in whatever way possible, to advance the goals of a practical, successful Arab agenda that provided a better life for ordinary people.”

Goldberg said that Daesh has “deepened Obama’s conviction that the Middle East could not be fixed — not on his watch, and not for a generation to come.”

In conclusion, Goldberg noted Obama’s acceptance that if Iran has a nuclear weapon in 20 years, he will still be around, “God willing” so it will have his name on it. “I think it is fair to say that in addition to our profound national security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

Middle East Monitor