Obama and Netanyahu have 'Bad Chemistry,' says Former US Ambassador

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By Umberto Bacchi | January 29, 2013 4:06 AM EST

US President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are said to have a "bad chemist" (Reuters)

The long rumoured mutual dislike between US president Barak Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been confirmed by a former US ambassador to Israel.

Obama and Netanyahu have a "bad chemistry," fuelled by a different apporach to peace talks with Palestine, according to Martin Indyk, vice president at Washington DC's Brookings Institution think tank.

Indyk, who served as US ambassador to Israel under Bill Clinton, said Obama is "frustrated" at Netanyahu's reticence in starting serious negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"It's not [just] settlements," Indyk told Israeli Army Radio. "President Obama is feeling quite frustrated because he rightly feels that he has done the right thing by Israel, but Israel is not responsive."

"There is a partner and he's just up the road in Ramallah, his name is Abu Mazen [Abbas] and he's committed to peace with Israel and to the two-state solution and to preventing violence and terrorism," Indyk said.

But the former diplomat criticised the US president for not visiting Jerusalem on his pre-election trip to Israel in 2008, and that he erred in not visiting Jerusalem since. It is "very important" that Israelis come to see Obama  as "a man that is deeply committed to Israel's security."

He said the two leaders need to "overcome" existing tensions and called for Netanyahu to "reach out to President Obama and try to turn a new page."

"Relations between the United States and Israel are more important than the differences between the two leaders," Indyk added.

First reports of the strained relations between Obama and Netanyahu became public in 2011, after a private conversation between the US president and his then-French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy was accidentally broadcasted.

"I can't stand him [Netanyahu]. He's a liar," Sarkozy said.

"You're tired of him -- what about me? I have to deal with him every day," Obama reportedly answered.

In September last year, Obama reportedly snubbed Netanyahu turning down his request for a meeting during a visit to Washington.

On the other hand, during the US electoral campaign in autumn 2012, Netanyahu didn't do much to hide his preference towards Republican candidate Mitt Romney and was accused of interfering with the election by the Democrats.

Obama won a second term and took the oath to serve as US president for another four years last week. 

Earlier this month, also Netanyahu's Likud party won Israeli elections and the PM is to have his mandate renewed for another five years, after the undergoing negotiations to form a government coalition are concluded.

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