[Oren] chooses to start with two situations that he believes highlight the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. ‘About a year ago when the fire broke out in the Carmel forest, the prime minister called me and described the seriousness of the situation,’ Oren recalls. ‘We searched all over to find American fire-fighting planes to send to Israel, but in the end I went in person to the White House, late in the evening, and asked to meet with the president. Obama was in the middle of a party. I approached him and told him that a huge fire was raging in the Carmel and that there was a danger the fire would also hit Haifa. Obama called a senior advisor and ordered: “Whatever Israel wants, get it to Israel right now.”
‘The next morning, representatives of the American firefighters presented us with eight Hercules planes,’ Oren says. The ambassador is still moved by that. ‘For me this was an exemplary moment that demonstrated the president’s closeness with and commitment to Israel.’
After that party, the same evening, Obama flew to Afghanistan. A few weeks later in a meeting at the Pentagon, one of the officials told Oren the rest of the story: ‘The president landed in Kabul and his first question was “Did the planes leave for Israel?”’...
Oren recalls another situation with a similar outcome about five weeks ago when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.S. president to ask for his help in rescuing the Israeli Embassy team in Cairo, Egypt.
Asked if it wasn’t a bit much to bother the leader of the Free World every time Israel has a problem, Oren says, ‘No, definitely not. That’s what we have friends for. This is the embodiment of the friendship. How many prime ministers can pick up the phone late on a Friday night, when the president is already on weekend vacation and tell him, “I need you” and the president gets involved immediately? In our relations with the U.S., we can do that. It has happened in the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu. For me, the accessibility is a huge advantage, in whose framework I have no problem calling the White House at 2 a.m. and getting an answer.’
Oren also spoke about relations between the Obama Administration and the current Israeli government:
[Relations are] Strong, sometimes very strong. What makes the headlines in the papers, here and in Israel, doesn’t necessarily reflect the entire picture. In security matters, there are very close relations which include exceptional intelligence cooperation. Recently, anti-missile systems like the Arrow, Iron Dome and David’s Sling were developed, and other types of coordination took place trying to maintain the IDF’s qualitative edge in the region.
When Obama took over, the U.S. government checked and found gaps, compared to previous years, in maintaining that advantage. A commitment was made to reduce those gaps, caused by a variety of reasons, such as Middle East arms sales which changed the balance of power, and technological developments. A decade ago they described a qualitative difference in a way no longer relevant today. Part of Israel’s advantage was in the quality of some of its special units or the technology which our adversaries already have now. We sat down and came up with an updated description of what a qualitative edge is today….
When we examine today’s situation from a historical perspective, there’s really only one conclusion: We have no problem with the American administration.
He also addressed speculation surrounding the bilateral meetings held between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
I’ve been at all eight meetings Netanyahu has had with Obama. I didn’t notice any tension. They were substantive meetings. At the last one at the U.N. there was definite warmth between them, and at the meeting they had in May, the press said Netanyahu lectured Obama - and that’s not true. The prime minister spoke about the Palestinians and didn’t criticize the Americans. The press didn’t report that at the end of the meeting, the two strolled around on the White House lawn for some 20 minutes, and on parting Obama gave Netanyahu half a hug and said: “Goodbye, my friend.”
There are no comments for this entry