WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. and Israeli officials sharply denied an account of a tense conversation between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The conversation described Tuesday night on Israel’s Channel One TV allegedly was the one Obama and Netanyahu had on Sunday evening, in which the White House had said in a statement that Obama had demanded an “immediate, unconditional” ceasefire.
The station quoted a “senior American source” as saying that the conversation was “tense” and that Obama was “condescending” and “hostile” to Netanyahu, behaving like the “law professor he once was,” showing “impatience and a lack of understanding of Israel’s problems.”
In an excerpt from the alleged transcript, Obama “demands” Israel adhere to a cease-fire and argues with Netanyahu over the role of Qatar and Turkey as interlocutors; Netanyahu says he does not trust those nations because of their closeness to Hamas and Obama says Israel in a position to pick and choose mediators.
Within minutes of its screening, Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, and Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser were on Twitter, expressing alarm.
“We have seen reports of an alleged POTUS-Netanyahu transcript; neither reports nor alleged transcript bear any resemblance to reality, “ said Hayden on the official NSC account, using the acronym for President of the United States. “Shocking and disappointing someone would sink to misrepresenting a private conversation between POTUS and PM in fabrications to Israeli press.”
Added Rhodes, after re-tweeting those statements: “This transcript of POTUS-PM call” report is totally false.”
Netanyahu’s office added: “We have seen reports of an alleged POTUS-Netanyahu transcript; neither reports nor alleged transcript bear any resemblance to reality.”