Olmert: Netanyahu Interfered in U.S. Elections for Sheldon Adelson

Speaking to U.S. Jewish leaders, the former PM, who is considering a return to politics, says Netanyahu might not have 'a friend in the White House' after he publicly backed Republican nominee Romney.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Following U.S. President Barack Obama's victory in the American presidential elections, on Wednesday former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of blatantly interfering in favor of Republican nominee Mitt Romney, adding that he did so in the name of Netanyahu and Romney-backer Sheldon Adelson.

"This represents a significant breach of the basic rules governing ties between nations, made worse by the fact that these are allies like Israel and the United States," Olmert said during a meeting with the heads of New York's Jewish community.

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Olmert, who's weighing whether or not to make a return to politics and run in the upcoming elections opposite Netanyahu, was asked by one of those attending the meeting whether or not the Israeli public was disturbed by the fact that the premier intervened in the U.S. presidential campaign.

"The prime minister has a right to prefer one candidate over another," Olmert said, adding, however, that it was "better, obviously, if he kept it to himself. What took place this time was a breaking of all the rules, when our prime minister intervened in the U.S. elections in the name of an American billionaire with a clear interest in the vote."

During the U.S. presidential elections, Adelson donated over $100 million to Romney's campaign, announcing that it was his goal to take Obama out of the White House. "The very same billionaire used Israel's prime minister to advance a nominee of his own for president," Olmert told Jewish leaders in New York.

Referring to Obama's overnight victory, the former premier congratulated the American president, saying that he "was a friend to Israel before he was re-elected, and he shall remain a friend of Israel now."

According to Olmert, Israel-U.S. ties are based on joint values, but that the level of trust between the American president and the Israeli prime minister is of great significance in this matter.

"Following what Netanyahu did in the last few months, raises the question whether or not our prime minister has a friend in the White House" Olmert said.

"I'm not sure," he added. "This may be very significant for us at critical junctures. Unfortunately, Netanyahu turned Israel from a topic that was beyond all dispute in the American elections, to an issue at the center of a debate."

Sheldon Adelson, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit: Tess Scheflan
Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud OlmertCredit: Daniel Bar-On

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