US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington (file photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hit back at US President Barack Obama’s criticism of his self-defeating policies.
"I think everyone knows that the citizens of Israel are the only ones who can decide who will faithfully represent the vital interests of the state," Netanyahu said on Wednesday during a visit to an army base near the occupied Gaza.
Netanyahu’s remarks came in response to an article by Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, who quoted Obama as having said privately that Israel under Netanyahu “doesn't know what its own best interests are."
Obama considered Netanyahu as a “political coward”, who has “become captive of Jewish settler lobby,” and his settlement policies were leading the Israeli regime “down a path toward near total isolation,” read the article, published on Tuesday.
Goldberg, who reportedly has close ties with the two leaders, also quoted Obama as saying that if Israel “becomes more of a pariah - one that alienates even the affections of the US, its last steadfast friend - it won’t survive.”
According to the article, Obama said that Netanyahu's behavior is a long-term threat to Tel Aviv.
Goldberg noted that Obama’s comments were made after the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status on November 29. The move was soon followed by Netanyahu’s plans to construct thousands more illegal settler units on occupied Palestinian land.
"Over the last four years, we have faced tremendous pressure and we will continue to stand up for the vital interests of Israel and its security," Netanyahu said during the tour of the army base.
Israel’s Likud officials criticized Obama’s remarks, accusing him of “gross interference” in the upcoming Israeli election. They said that Obama was “taking revenge” against the Israeli premier for his perceived support of Republican challenger Mitt Romney in US presidential elections in 2012.