When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied interfering in U.S. elections today, he chose an odd platform to air his position.
He gave the interview to an Israeli newspaper owned by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a top Republican donor who has vowed to give tens of millions of dollars to defeat President Barack Obama.
Netanyahu’s denial came days after he chastised the Obama administration for its failure to take a harder line against Iran. The attack, made in English at a press conference, was condemned by Democrats as an effort to bolster Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.
Netanyahu told an Israeli paper in an interview previewed today that the charge was “[N]onsense because the issue that is guiding me is not the U.S. elections, but the centrifuges in Iran, and what can I do if the centrifuges in Iran are inconsiderate of the U.S. political timetable?”
The Israeli paper was Israel Hayom, a free daily owned by the American Jewish casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson and his wife have given $10 million to Mitt Romney’s super PAC, making them some of this election cycle’s most prominent political donors.
Israel Hayom, for its part, is considered to have a heavy pro-Netanyahu slant.
Mitt Romney started off his overseas tour on the wrong foot, with a series of gaffes in his first stop in London.
But the presumptive Republican nominee seems well aware of the pitfalls waiting ahead as he reaches Israel on Saturday night.
The main point for Romney is to avoid overtly criticizing President Barack Obama (he wants to adhere to the unwritten rule that partisan politics stops at the water’s edge) while expressing his views loud and clear.
Early reviews are he handled the balancing act well. The key is in the location of the interview.
Romney gave one interview to Israel Hayom on the sidelines of the VFW conference in Reno, Nevada. There, on U.S. soil, he felt free to throw punches at Obama regarding his relations with Israel. “I cannot imagine going to the United Nations, as Obama did, and criticizing Israel in front of the world,” he said. “You don’t criticize your allies in public to achieve the applause of your foes.”
He called Obama’s reference to the 1967 borders “not the right course for America to take” and said Obama “abandoned the freedom agenda” in his dealing with the democratic uprisings in the Arab world.