The Times of Israel has published what is alleged to be a transcript of a leaked telephone call between Obama and Netanyahu. Both Netanyahu and Obama are denying its truth, but I wonder. The substance is entirely consistent with Obama’s and Kerry’s public pronouncements, although much ruder, hectoring, hostile, and autocratic in tone. My suspicion is that Obama is denying it because he’s worried that it makes him look bad, and Bibi is denying it for the same reason – to help Obama save face in return for which, one hopes, Bibi gets something.
Israel’s Channel 1 publishes a Hebrew transcript of a portion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama’s telephone conversation Sunday, in which Obama is insistent that Israel unilaterally halt all military activities in the Gaza Strip.
The following is an English translation of the Hebrew account of the talk given in the report:
Barack Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.
Benjamin Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?
BO: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.
BN: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
BO: I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.
BN: Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.
BO: Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza.
BN: Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.
BO: I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.
BN: I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –
BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.