World Jewish leader to Obama: Is U.S. committed to Israel's security?
WJC President Lauder urges Obama in letter reportedly approved by Netanyahu to 'end public feud with Israel.'
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder has publicly questioned United States President Barack Obama's commitment to Israel's security, in a letter he reportedly drafted with the approval of his close friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Our great country and the tiny State of Israel have long shared the core values of freedom and democracy," wrote Lauder, in a letter published Thursday as an advertisement in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
"It is a bond much treasured by the Jewish people. In that spirit I submit, most respectfully, that it is time to end our public feud with Israel and to confront the real challenges that we face together," wrote Lauder.
In his letter, Lauder asks why the Obama administration has taken such a critical stance toward Israel amid efforts to revive stalled Middle East peace talks.
"Why does the thrust of this administration's Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate," wrote Lauder.
"Can it be true that America is no longer committed to a final status agreement that provides defensible borders for Israel? Is a new course being charted that would leave Israel with the indefensible borders that invited invasion prior to 1967?"
According to the New York Times, Lauder "said he discussed the letter with Mr. Netanyahu and received his support before taking out the advertisement."
Sources close to Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said in response that Lauder updated Netanyahu over a week ago about his intention to publish a letter supporting Israel's policies in Jerusalem, yet the prime minister did not receive a copy of the letter itself, and in fact saw it for the first time when it was published in the American media.
The source added that neither Netanyahu nor his associates were involved in the choice of phrasing used in the letter.
Lauder is considered one of the closest Jewish leaders to Netanyahu - if not the closest. He is one of the richest Jews in the world, and has been a major donor to Netanyahu during elections over recent years.
During Netanyahu's first term as prime minister in the late 1990s, Netanyahu appointed Lauder - then a private businessman - as his envoy in negotiations with Syria. In this capacity, Lauder shuttled between Damascus and Jerusalem with messages between the prime minister and then Syrian president, Hafez al-Assad