By HERB KEINON, JPOST—
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro did engage in a sharp, undiplomatic exchange last Friday over Netanyahu’s frustration with the Obama Administration’s Iran policy, the US congressman in that meeting said Thursday.
Republican Congressman Mike Rogers from Michigan, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told a Michigan radio station that the “sharp exchange” was “unusual, to say the least.”
According to transcribed segments of the interview that appeared on Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog, Rogers – when asked whether it was inaccurate to say the exchange was a shouting match – replied that “there were elevated concerns on behalf of the Israelis.”
Pressed whether he had ever experienced anything like that before, he said, “We’ve had sharp exchanges with other heads of state and in intelligence services and other things, but nothing at that level that I’ve seen in all my time where people were clearly that agitated, clearly that worked up about a particular issue where there was a very sharp exchange.”
Yedioth Aharonoth published on its front page last Friday a report of the exchange, saying that “sparks flew” during the meeting.
Two days later Shapiro went on Channel 2 and denied the story, characterizing it as a “silly” report that “did not reflect what actually occurred in the meeting.”
Rogers said that it was “very, very clear” from the meeting that the Israelis “had lost their patience with the administration. There was no doubt.” “Right now the Israelis don’t believe that the administration is serious when they say that all options are on the table, and more importantly neither do the Iranians. That’s why the program is progressing,” he said.
Rogers said that he walked out of the meeting feeling that Israel was at its “wit’s end,” and feeling that the window for impacting the Iranian program was starting to close.
The Michigan Republican said that what was apparent was “a lot of frustration with the lack of clarity and the uncertainty” about the administration’s position on the Iranian issue.
“And that’s what I think I saw across the Middle East,” he added.
“The uncertainty about where the United States’ position is on those questions has created lots of problems and anxiety that I think doesn’t serve the world well and doesn’t serve peace well.”