Netanyahu: Obama threatened me, made “slitting throat” gestures

“I know how to deal with tough rivals,” Obama told Netanyahu.

Oct.17, 2022

In Benjamin Netanyahu’s new book, Bibi: My Story, Netanyahu accuses the Obama administration of trying to “force confrontations” with “Israel”.

Netanyahu revealed in his book that former US President Barack Obama threatened Netanyahu in their first meeting in the White House in 2009. Toward the end of the meeting, Obama said: “You know, people often read me wrong, but I come from Chicago. I know how to deal with tough rivals.”

Then, Obama, as narrated by Netanyahu, did something “that deeply shocked me because it was so opposed to his restrained character. The message was clear and it was meant to strike fear in me.” There was no mention of what Obama did in the book.

However, Mazal Mualem, a journalist, denoted that Obama gestured that he was slitting someone’s throat as he said that he knows how to deal with Netanyahu. Mualem’s account is cited in Cracking the Netanyahu Code, a biography of Netanyahu that has recently been published.

Netanyahu met with Obama in 2007 when the former was an opposition leader and the latter was a senator. Obama “championed the social-democratic idea; I was an economic conservative and security hawk”- that they could work well together.

Regarding the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu wrote that when Obama became president, he felt that the tensions between the two were beyond the natural pressure that US Presidents have with their Israeli counterparts. The pressure, according to Netanyahu, “was something much deeper, ideologically and personally.”

In addition, when it came to canceling the JCPOA, Netanyahu’s administration was frustrated that they could not persuade Obama’s administration to stop the program.

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“The equation he made was clear as day: The US had no possibility to advance in stopping Iran without getting something in return for the Palestinians,” said former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

Obama, in 2010, gave Netanyahu and his staff “an assignment,” and spoke to Netanyahu “like we were employees in his business or students in his class, not representatives of a sovereign state.”

The assignment was to jot down concessions for Al-Quds that would renew talks with the Palestinian authority.

“Why are you forcing a confrontation?” Netanyahu asked Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time in 2010, further telling Obama that there was no way the occupation would go back to the 1967 lines, retorting “It’s not going to happen.”

The height of the tensions between the two was when Netanyahu was invited to openly speak against the JCPOA in front of both houses of Congress. The event was at the invitation of Republican John Boehner, who was then speaker of the House.

There were tensions and drama before the speech, as numerous Congress members and American friends warned Netanyahu that he should either desert the speech entirely or be very cautious.

The fallout from the speech, in addition to the damage caused to the bipartisan support for “Israel,” according to the book, was a scenario that was manufactured by Yair Lapid, now prime minister, and critics who work for Israeli media.

The former PM hopes to retain the Prime Minister’s Office this year – he has been careful not to criticize incumbent US President Joe Biden, depicting the President as a “friend of Israel”, with Netanyahu’s book featuring many Biden moments.

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When Netanyahu was speaking to Biden about how stopping the Iran nuclear deal was important as “existential” to “Israel,” Biden cracked a joke: A chicken suggested to a pig that they give their farmer some bacon and eggs. The pig says to the chicken, “for you, that’s a one-time donation. For me, it’s a lifetime commitment.”

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