WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator John McCain accused President Barack Obama of throwing a “temper tantrum” over comments by Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu, adding to the conflict between the White House and the Republican-dominated Congress over Israel.
McCain, asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” show if U.S.-Israel relations were at a dangerous point, said, “I think that’s up to the president of the United States.”
Obama’s sensitive relationship with Netanyahu was strained further by comments Netanyahu made in the closing moments of his successful campaign for re-election last week.
“The president should get over it,” McCain said on CNN. “Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President.
“The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during an election campaign. If every politician were held to everything they say in a political campaign, obviously that would be a topic of long discussion.”
McCain, a leading voice in Congress on foreign relations, urged Obama to focus on the growing Islamic State threat in the Middle East and curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu has become an issue in Democrat Obama’s rocky relationship with Congress, where Republicans hold majorities in both the House and Senate.
Netanyahu told the U.S. Congress earlier this month that the United States should do more to stop Iran’s nuclear program, speaking at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner, who did not consult the White House in advance.
A group of 47 senators also bypassed Obama this month by sending a letter to Iran that the White House said undermined negotiations with Tehran on nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu drew a further rebuke from the White House last week when he abandoned a commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state, even though he later backed off from his comments. Media reports said the United States was reviewing its position on a U.N. Security Council resolution on Palestinian state.
In the past Israel has relied on U.S. veto power on the Security Council to support its interests.
Writing and reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky