The White House National Security Council says they are being misrepresented by purported transcripts of a recent conversation between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The alleged transcript shows Obama as hostile towards Israel and seemingly sympathetic towards Hamas. In the call Obama asks that Israel unilaterally ease its military action in Gaza and tells Netanyahu that Israel is in no position to reject pro-Hamas regimes as mediators in the conflict.
The conversation between the two leaders occurred in English, then was translated into Hebrew for Israeli media, and is now translated back into English. Members of the White House administration are rejecting the accuracy of Obama’s words in the phone call transcripts.
According to the transcript, Obama told Netanyahu that he “demand that Israel agree to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire” and halt all military action in Gaza, because he believes that if Israeli ends its rocket fire, so will Hamas, describing it as “quiet in return for quiet.” Netanyahu responded that Hamas has broken all previous ceasefires, and that the terrorist organization is solely dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and it will not end the rocket fire if Israel does so first.
Hamas has fired 2,500 rockets into Israel in the past three weeks of fighting, and has broken five cease-fire agreements.
Obama continued to express a desire for the Israeli Prime Minster to halt the Israeli Defense Force efforts.
“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.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly failed in his efforts to broker peace between Israel and Hamas. Most recently, he proposed a failed cease-fire that would have likely “strengthened extremists in the region,” according to Israeli officials. Similarly, the Palestinians on the West Bank are displeased with Kerry’s efforts in the region, seeing him as doing Hamas’ bidding.
The transcript matches the thrust of Kerry’s recent failed proposal for cease-fire negotiations involving Qatar and Turkey. The idea of a conditional surrender would leave Israel, an ally of the United States, powerless against its enemies.
Obama told Netanyahu: “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 restrictions on Gaza.”
Netanyahu replied that Qatar and Turkey are two of the biggest supporters of Hamas, and involving them in negotiations could lead to a one-sided solution. Obama replied that he trusts the two countries to act justly. He also stated that “Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.”
The day after his call with Obama, Netanyahu told Israelis to prepare for a “prolonged campaign” against Hamas, readying the country for a longer fight, and the possibility of war.