Caught off guard by a microphone accidentally left on after a G20 meeting last week, the U.S. and French presidents showed sour sentiments towards the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in an embarrassing conversation which was made public by a French website.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told U.S. President Barack Obama that he could not “stand” Benjamin Netanyahu and that he thinks the Israeli Prime Minister “is a liar,” a report in the French website Arret sur Images said on Monday.
Obama is quoted to have replied to Sarkozy with: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
The report claims that the conversation began with Obama carping Sarkozy for not having warned him that France would be voting in favor of the Palestinian membership bid in UNESCO.
Washington strongly opposed Palestine’s UNESCO bid, in the fear that full membership would ultimately boost the Palestinian bid for recognition as a state at the United Nations ─ a diplomatic move also opposed by allies Israel and the United States.
The conversation, which took place in a private room for the two presidents to discuss matters of the day after Thursday’s G20 conference in Cannes, then turned to Netanyahu.
Both Sarkozy and Obama reportedly voiced their remarks concerning Netanyahu, which were made embarrassingly public due to the microphones which were accidentally left on.
The conversation then quickly reverted to other matters, the report said.
The microphone slip-up went by unnoticed for several minutes by members of the press, who wore headsets provided by the Elysée for the audio translations during the G20 press conference.
“By the time the [media] services at the Elysée realized it, it was on for at least three minutes,” one journalist told the website. Still, he said that reporters “did not have a chance to take advantage of this fluke.”
An unnamed report has alleged that the surprising lack of coverage of the Obama, Sarkozy conversation was because the reporters present at the event were requested to sign an agreement to keep quiet about what had happened, Ynet.com news reports.
A member of the media confirmed Monday that although it was “annoying” for journalists to hold back from publishing the information, he said that they had to adhere to precise rules of conduct.
“There were discussions between journalists and they agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue,” he told Ynet.com.
(Written by Eman El-shenawi)