Israeli paper reports on blow-up between Bibi Netanyahu, US envoy: “Sparks flew”

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Shimon Shifffer, writing at Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth Friday, reports on an alleged recent heated exchange between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

According to Shiffer, the “debate not diplomatic” occurred at a meeting last week when Shapiro accompanied visiting House Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) to a meeting with Netanyahu:

 Netanyahu, according to a source who took part in the meeting, was irritable and very tense.  At the start of the meeting, he leveled a sharp attack on the Obama administration, which he said was not doing enough on the Iranian issue.  “Instead of effectively pressuring Iran, Obama and his associates are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities,” he said, and went on to criticize the administration’s declarations that there was still room for diplomacy.  “Time has run out,” he said firmly.

At a certain point, an unusual event took place in the office …Ambassador Shapiro, who was appointed by President Obama and for years was one of his closest advisers, decided that he was fed up. …He asked permission to speak and replied to Netanyahu in a polite manner—but one that left no room for doubt.

The ambassador, in effect, accused Netanyahu of distorting Obama’s position.  He quoted the president, who had promised that he would not let there be a nuclear Iran and said that all options, including a military strike, were on the table. […]

Political sources who witnessed the event said that “sparks flew” in the room, and that the verbal exchange became progressively sharper.  Netanyahu charged, Shapiro replied—and so on and so forth, with Rogers observing, stunned, from the sidelines.  The meeting finally ended with a harsh atmosphere in the room. …

Susan Phalen, a spokeswoman for Rogers, contacted by Al-Monitor, declined to comment on the report, confirming only that Rogers was in Israel and met with Netanyahu.

Amb. Shapiro himself referenced Rep. Rogers’ visit to Israel on his Facebook page August 24th. “My thanks to Congressman Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for an important visit to Israel to advance cooperation between our countries on critical security matters,” Shapiro wrote.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the report, except to reiterate the United States’ “rock solid support for Israeli security” and “unbreakable bond” with Israel and the Israeli people.

The suggestion of a raised-voice argument by the US envoy is an exaggeration, a source who asked not to be identified said.

(Photo: Screen shot of Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth page 2 report August 31, 2012 on alleged confrontation between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, US ambassador Dan Shapiro at a meeting last month. Al-Monitor.)