Sarkozy Obama Netanyahu – President Obama and French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy forgot about the live mic when they called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a liar.
“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama before the two made joint statements during last week’s G-20 summit in Cannes, France, Reuters reported.
“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to the French interpreter, per Reuters.
Both leaders were unaware that the microphone was already turned on and French reporters could hear the private conversation.
This isn’t the first time Obama has been caught on an open mike. During a private Q-and-A with campaign donors in April, Obama ripped the Republicans and questioned the pace of democracy in Qatar.
The technical gaffe is likely to cause great embarrassment to all three leaders as they look to work together to intensify international pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
The conversation was not initially reported by the small group of journalists who overheard it because it was considered private and off-the-record. But the comments have since emerged on French websites and can be confirmed by Reuters.
Obama’s apparent failure to defend Netanyahu is likely to be leapt on by his Republican foes, who are looking to unseat him in next year’s presidential election and have portrayed him as hostile to Israel, Washington’s closest ally in the region.
Pushing Netanyahu risks alienating Israel’s strong base of support among the U.S. public and in Congress.
Obama and Netanyahu have had a rocky relationship as U.S. efforts to broker a Middle East peace deal have foundered, with the U.S. president openly criticizing Jewish settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories.