Netanyahu Says U.S. Ties to Stay Strong as Opposition Warns Him Against Meddling in Election

In weekly meeting with party members, Netanyahu said 'ties with U.S. to stay strong no matter who wins.'

Benjamin Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Drew Angerer| Jewel Samad / AFP / Illustration Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israeli-American ties would remain strong no matter which candidate wins on Election Day, as the head of Israel's opposition accused Netanyahu and his associates of interfering in the American election process.

“In the past, we saw serious information stating that Israeli leaders tried to intervene and influence the results of the elections [in the United States], and the citizens of Israel paid the high price,” opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog said.

“Recently, we saw again information on Israeli leaders’ intervention in elections through people close to them across the sea,” he said in a possible reference to Sheldon Adelson, a GOP mega-donor who supports Netanyahu and had donated to Trump.

Herzog made the comments on Monday at a meeting of the opposition Zionist Union faction.

“I call on Netanyahu to instruct those close to him to make sure no damage is done,” Herzog said without naming anyone he suspects. “His silence about the actions of those allies is dangerous and destructive.”

During this election cycle, Netanyahu stuck by the political Israeli tradition of avoiding any direct comment on the U.S. presidential campaign.

His famously chilly relationship with President Barack Obama grew even worse in 2012 when Netanyahu backed longtime associate Mitt Romney, the candidate who failed to derail Obama’s election to a second term.  

In September Netanyahu met with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for separate courtesy calls while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly session. He made no statements afterwards.

Addressing his weekly Likud Knesset faction meeting, Netanyahu said that “no matter what the outcome, relations will continue to remain strong. They are based on the common values of freedom, democracy, progress and common interests.”

“When you look around the region around us you understand how much these values are unique,” Netanyahu told his cabinet. Repeating another oft-heard mantra, he said, “the American people regard Israel as a special and loyal ally and certainly in the stormy Middle East.”

Pointing to a Gallup survey showing how American support for Israel has grown in the past 16 years, he said that “Israel has no better friend than the United States, and the United States has no better friend than Israel.”

In September Washington agreed to a 10-year aid package of an unprecedented $38 billion for Israel. The deal renewed an annual assistance framework that was due to expire.