A senior official in Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party on Friday rejected fresh criticism of the premier bu US President Barack Obama as unjustified and hypocritical.
Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the influential foreign affairs and defense committee in parliament, was responding to remarks by US President Barack Obama published Thursday in news magazine The Atlantic.
Obama restated concerns about comments that Netanyahu made during a hotly-contested March general election and warned of repercussions.
In a polling-day bid to energize right-wing voters, he warned that Arab Israelis were going to the polls "in droves" – a comment for which he later apologized.
"It appeared that Arab Israeli citizens were somehow portrayed as an invading force that might vote, and that this should be guarded against," Obama said.
The comment by Netanyahu was meant as a warning to nationalists to counter an expected influx of Arab votes specifically to the radical anti-Zionist Joint List party – an eventuality which did occur, as the Joint list finished election night as the third largest party, with 13 seat.
Obama also pointed to a Netanyahu statement ruling out the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state if reelected, though he has since sought to backtrack, prompting confusion as to his precise stance which has drawn criticism from both the Left and Right.
"When something like that happens, that has foreign policy consequences," the American president said.
Hanegbi countered that Obama's remarks were "inappropriate".
"I think his approach has no justification and no small measure of hypocrisy," he told Israeli public radio.
"We don't hear a word of criticism about our neighbors, for example the world record-holder in executions, Iran, with whom he is actually making supreme attempts at reconciliation," he fired, referring to efforts to strike a nuclear deal.
Hanegbi was not the first senior Israeli politician to slam Obama's remarks.
Earlier Friday, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin – also a senior figure within Likud – accused Obama of repeatedly attempting to meddle in Israel's domestic affairs.
"We have much appreciation and respect for the president of the United States, but there's no place for statements which constitute interfering in the internal affairs of Israel," Levin said.
"The time has come for leaders of the West to open their eyes and take care of the true problems threatening world peace, with radical Islam at the forefront, and stop the incessant preoccupation with the State of Israel, which is the only democracy in the region and is struggling practically alone for the future of the free world."