In response to US President Barack Obama's interview Tuesday to the Israeli Channel 2, in which he threatened to stop defending Israel at the UN if the peace process isn't renewed, Opposition head MK Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) responded Wednesday morning by blaming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for "humiliating" Obama.
Herzog indicated that Obama's hostile tone in the interview with Ilana Dayan on the TV show "Uvda" (Fact) pointed to a serious crisis in terms of relations between Israel and America.
"This is an important interview of a friend of Israel who is worried about the security of Israel," claimed Herzog in an Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) interview.
Obama's antagonistic stance in the interview was described by the Labor chairperson, who said, "he said things that really disturb me and we have a problem. For dozens of years we haven't been in a situation in which an American president doesn't meet with the prime minister, and speaks with citizens of Israel in a televised interview."
In the interview, Obama criticized Netanyahu as being "a politician, who's concerned about keeping coalitions together and maintaining his office," and went on to threaten not to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the UN – potentially including recognition of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a state, and sanctions against Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria – if peace talks aren't restarted.
Obama also said that Iran has abided by agreements during negotiations, even as a report revealed it has grown its nuclear fuel stockpiles by a massive 20% over the past 18 months of negotiations.
Speaking about Iran, Herzog said the issue "is a national challenge of the highest order."
Criticizing Netanyahu, he said, "in order to fight the (nuclear) program you need to talk with the Americans and not to slap and humiliate," a reference to Netanyahu's speech on the issue in Congress in March which Obama refused to attend, saying it was not sufficiently coordinated with him.
Turning his attention to the UK student union decision Tuesday to boycott Israel, Herzog added, "we are at the peak of a serious diplomatic campaign against Israel. Netanyahu needs to appoint a foreign minister urgently."
"Israel needs to change its operation in the international arena and to work on all fronts," concluded Herzog.
Herzog, who lost out to Netanyahu's Likud in the recent elections by a wide margin of 24 seats to 30, has in the past advocated establishing a Palestinian Arab capital in Jerusalem, dividing the city.