In a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday night, President Obama inadvertently suggested an approach to the Middle East that places Israel on a par with its Arab neighbors, calling Israel “one of our closest allies in the region.”
Actually, Israel is by far our closest ally in the region, the one nation in the Middle East that can provide significant and reliable military support in the event of war.
But Obama during his presidency has pursued a more “even-handed” approach with respect to the Arabs than his predecessors, maintaining a rocky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and moving the starting point for negotiations with the Palestinians back to the pre-1967 borders.
In the interview, Obama also suggested his contempt for Netanyahu, referring to the Israeli prime minster’s pleas for a tougher line against Iran and its nuclear program as part of the “noise” he has to ignore when making national security decisions for the United States.
Below is an excerpt from the 60 Minutes interview in which Obama talks about the Middle East.
UPDATE: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today implied – though he did not acknowledge – that Obama misspoke, saying the president has repeated referred to Israel as American’s closest ally in the region.