US officials: We punished Netanyahu with media blackout

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Senior US diplomatic sources have confirmed that the media blackout and shroud of secrecy surrounding Monday's meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama was the result of strained relations between the two leaders.

Speaking to Israel's Army Radio on Wednesday morning, one unnamed US diplomat said the Obama Administration had become unhappy with what is viewed as Netanyahu's efforts to manipulate its policies during press briefings, and imposed the media blackout on Monday's meeting as a means of bringing the Israeli leader back in line.

The official also accused Netanyahu of indirectly pressuring Obama via Jewish-American lobby groups.

A day earlier, another US official told the Wall Street Journal that Obama and his staff had been severely disappointed with what Netanyahu said or didn't say during his meeting with the president.

"We had an idea that he might bring something out to push the [peace] process forward," the official said. "But he's kept it in his pocket."

That dissatisfaction came just a little more than a week after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly praised Netanyahu for implementing "unprecedented" and even unnecessary concessions for the sake of restarting peace talks with the Palestinians.

It would seem Israeli gestures have a shelf-life of only about one week in Washington these days.

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