Covering the current visit of President Barack Obama to Israel, veteran NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell criticized the Chief Executive on March 20. Speaking on a MSNBC News Nation segment, Mitchell claimed that Obama's relationship with the outspoken Israeli premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, is "one of the worst" she has witnessed since the Reagan administration.
Obama's visit has been met with considerable fanfare, and security. Nonetheless, it was also met with rocket fire from the Palestinian side of Israel's border with Gaza on March 21. It was on that same day that Obama met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Israel and Palestine remain stymied in negotiations over Jewish settlements in territory claimed by Palestinians. The Obama administration is seeking an agreement acceptable to both sides, even while Palestine refuses to negotiate further on the issue until there is an effective freeze on further settlements.
Here follows a transcript of Andrea Mitchell's remarks:
CRAIG MELVIN, SUBSTITUTE HOST: Andrea, how has the relationship between President Obama and the Prime Minister, how has it evolved? Because we just saw it there, sort of an interesting image this morning, the two of them walking with their jackets off and matching ties. They seem to be palling around this morning.
ANDREA MITCHELL: They certainly made a big effort at it. Louise just mentioned that terrible visit two years ago when the Prime Minister in the Oval Office scolded the President to his face. And you saw the expressions. They were really, the White House was really offended by that. It’s taken a lot to repair it, and similarly, the Israelis felt that the position that Barack Obama took when he first took office against Jewish settlements were a real obstacle, and then of course the President backed down, and that was an awkward moment for the Palestinians leaving them in the lurch.
So nobody, none of the independent critics would say that the White House has not bungled this relationship, but a lot of people put blame on the Israeli side as well. It's gotten off on the wrong foot and they’re trying to fix it, but it is one of the worst relationships I can remember, and I’ve covered every president going all the way back to Ronald Reagan. These, these leaders do not get along. They are not simpatico.
There’s certainly a perception, probably a correct one, that Netanyahu was in Mitt Romney’s corner and leaned over backwards on behalf of the Republican nominee, got involved in American politics too much. So they have a lot of repair to do, damage control if you will. The White House comes on this visit clearly with that in mind.