A spokesman for the State Department in Washington on Wednesday denounced what he called the "false" assertions by former Israeli ambassador and current MK Michael Oren, who said the Obama administration has abandoned Israel.
In an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Oren, now a member of the Kulanu party, said President Barack Obama had dropped the core principles guiding Israeli-U.S. ties of "no daylight, no surprises."
Oren, who served as ambassador from 2009 to 2013, acknowledged that Israel blundered in many instances, but added that "while neither leader monopolized mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately."
"From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader," Oren wrote.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby insisted that as Oren had only been the ambassador, he "had limited visibility into many of the private discussions and deliberations that he describes."
Secretary of State John Kerry believed that Oren's account, "particularly the account of President Obama's leadership in the U.S.-Israeli relationship, is absolutely inaccurate and false, and doesn't reflect what actually happened in the past," Kirby was quoted by AFP as having told reporters.
"From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran," Oren had written. "Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America."
Back in 2009, Oren recalls how Obama told American Jewish leaders, "when there is no daylight Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs," a comment that ignored the 2005 Disengagement plan from Gaza and Israel's previous two offers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to grant them a state.
Obama also nixed former President George W. Bush's promise to include major "settlement blocs" in Judea and Samaria within Israel's borders according to any peace agreement, instead forcing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to impose total building freezes in those areas.
Oren noted that as a result, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas torpedoed the peace talks by sealing a unity deal with Hamas, "but he never paid a price. By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Mr. Netanyahu for building in areas that even Palestinian negotiators had agreed would remain part of Israel."
He pointed to Obama's first meeting in May 2009 with Netanyahu when he abruptly demanded that Israel freeze construction in Judea and Samaria and accept a two-state solution.
Only weeks later, Obama travelled to the Middle East to address the Muslim world but did not make a stop in Israel, and broke with tradition by not giving Israeli leaders an advance copy of his speech.
Before Kirby’s remarks, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the Kulanu party, penned an official apology letter to the White House over Oren’s remarks.
In the letter, Kahlon stated that Oren's views are his alone and that the accusations levied in the Wall Street Journal article do not represent the views of the party.