Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mitt Romney in Jerusalem last year
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mitt Romney in Jerusalem last year. Photo by GPO
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The duel between the New York Times and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers continues. Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren submitted a letter to the editor to the New York Times' editorial board, with a complaint regarding an article which was published several days ago about the close ties between Netanyahu and the likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In the letter, which was published on Thursday, Oren rejected the allegations that Netanyahu is intervening in the presidential race in the United States.

"Israel does not interfere in internal political affairs of the United States — contrary to the article’s insinuation — and greatly values the wide bipartisan support it enjoys in America," Oren wrote.

In Michael Barbaro's article, which was published on the front page of the New York Times on Monday, it was mentioned that several weeks ago on Super Tuesday, Netanyahu personally briefed Romney on the phone regarding the situation in Iran.

The article also said that the relationship between Netanyahu and Romney began in 1976 and remained intact until today.

The article gave several examples of the open lines of communication between Netanyahu and Romney.

"When it was Mr. Gingrich’s turn to leap to the top of the polls, Mr. Netanyahu was startled in January by an article exploring why Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino executive and outspoken supporter of Israel, was devoting millions of dollars to back Mr. Gingrich. It described Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Adelson as close friends," the article stated.

"Mr. Netanyahu’s office quickly relayed a message to a senior Romney adviser, Dan Senor: the prime minister had played no role in Mr. Adelson’s decision to bankroll a Romney rival."

In the letter submitted to the New York Times, Oren claimed that the phone call on Super Tuesday that was mentioned was actually Romney calling Netanyahu, who was in Washington for the AIPAC conference.

"The call lasted a few minutes and covered a range of topics, not just Iran," Oren wrote.

"Israeli leaders have a longstanding practice of meeting the candidates from both parties. On July 23, 2008, for example, Senator Obama, then the presumptive Democratic nominee, met in Israel with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as the head of the opposition, Mr. Netanyahu," he added.

Oren's complaint letter to the New York Times has already turned into the norm in the loaded relationship between the newspaper and the Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Just several weeks ago, Netanyahu's adviser Ron Dermer sent his own letter to the New York Times in which he emphasized that the Israeli prime minister does not plan on writing any op-ed pieces in the newspaper, due to its constant criticism of the Netanyahu government's policies.

A month later, Jerusalem Post editor Steve Linde said at a closed event that Netanyahu told him that the New York Times is one of the main enemies of Israel, since it "sets the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world."

Shortly afterward, following pressure from the Prime Minister's Office, Linde issued a clarification and recanted.