U.S.: Emanuel 'didn't threaten to walk away' from Mideast peace process
Obama's chief of staff reportedly told Israeli official that U.S. is fed up with Israel, Palestinians.
The White House had rejected claims that Barack Obama's most senior aide blasted Israel and the Palestinians for foot-dragging and warned that the U.S. could walk away from the Middle East peace process.
The comments come after reports that Rahm Emanuel recently told an Israeli diplomat that the U.S. is fed up with both sides, and said that Washington would reduce its involvement in peace efforts if no significant progress was made.
The White House aide emphasized that Emanuel's statements were distorted. "He expressed frustration with the lack of progress with the peace process, but he certainly didn't threaten to walk away from it. The allegations are completely ridiculous," the aide said.
Emanuel met with Jacob Dayan, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, about two weeks ago, after which Dayan briefed the Foreign Ministry.
According to reports, Emanuel told Dayan the U.S. is sick of the Israelis, who adopt suitable ideas months too late, when they are no longer effective.
The U.S. is also sick of the Palestinians who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, Emanuel reportedly said.
Emanuel added that if there is no progress in the peace process, the Obama administration will reduce its involvement in the conflict, because, as he reportedly said, the U.S. has other matters to deal with.
The White House reports that Dayan later claimed that Emanuel's views were distorted. Dayan stressed that during his visit to Los Angeles, Emanuel reiterated his unflagging commitment to Israel's security and his devotion to the search for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren also wished to reiterate Israel's complete confidence in Emanuel's leadership and his friendship with the State of Israel.
Emanuel reportedly also said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly acknowledged the two-state solution too late, and that the freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank came only after months of U.S. pressure.
The report added that both sides reportedly rejected the peace plan proposed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but that if there is progress in peace talks, Obama might visit Israel and the region.