CHARLOTTE, N.C. (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erupted in anger at the U.S. ambassador to Israel over what Israel’s government regards as unclear signals from the United States on Iran.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, described for a Michigan radio station, WJR, an encounter that he witnessed last month when he was visiting Israel. The interview was picked up Thursday by the Atlantic magazine.
"It was very, very clear the Israelis had lost their patience with the [Obama] administration," Rogers said.
When details of the encounter were first leaked to the Israeli media, Daniel Shapiro, the ambassador to Israel, had said that the meeting was friendly and professional.
Rogers suggested that Netanyahu initiated the argument.
"The meeting was designed, it was supposed to be between Netanyahu and myself on some intelligence cooperation matters and other matters, when it came to Iran and Syria and other things, and kind of devolved into this meeting where the ambassador was confronted directly," he said.
Rogers described Israeli frustration at what he depicted as the administration’s failure to make clear to Israel or Iran whether and when it will use military force to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"Their frustration is that the administration hasn’t made it very clear — they’ve made it very clear to Israel in a public way that they shouldn’t do it, but haven’t made it very clear to Iran in a public way that there will be tougher action, which could include — and I argue peace through strength, so you just need to let them understand that that’s an option so we can deter them from their program," he said.
"And right now the Israelis don’t believe that the administration is serious when they say that all options are on the table, and more importantly neither do the Iranians," Rogers said.
The Obama administration has endeavored in recent months to keep Israel from striking Iran as the Islamic Republic appears to edge closer to the capability to produce a nuclear weapon in short order.
In Charlotte, where the Democratic Party was holding its convention, Jack Lew, Obama’s chief of staff, was quoted by an official of the Center for Middle East Peace as saying on Thursday that "we have made it clear to others what we think that time horizon will look like," regarding an Iran timeline.