Herb Keinon @ The Jerusalem Post:
A day after US columnist Jeffrey Goldberg quoted US President Barack Obama as saying that Israel under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not know what is in its own best interest, Netanyahu visited the Gaza border Wednesday, was told that December was the quietest month in the last 12 years, and essentially replied to Obama: “Yes I do.”
“I think everyone understands that only Israel’s citizens will be the ones to determine who faithfully represents Israel’s vital interests,” Netanyahu said on a visit to an army base near Gaza in his first direct response to Obama’s reported criticism. “Over the last four years we stood up against strong pressure, and I will continue to do so for Israel’s security.
Netanyahu, who was joined on his visit by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and top IDF brass, was told that according to the security establishment’s figures, December was the quietest month in the south since January 2001.
“I am very impressed by the advanced technological means, and even more so by our young soldiers operating them here,” he said. “The IDF, Shin Bet, and security force are doing very important work here. They are maintaining the quiet which has been kept since Operation Pillar of Defense.”
Netanyahu said that no one had any delusions, and that the quiet could be shattered at any time. But, he said, the IDF was prepared for any scenario. “We will do everything necessary to defend Israel’s citizens here and everywhere else.”
Senior Likud officials had already accused Obama on Tuesday of leaking sharp criticism Netanyahu’s leadership in order to sway voters in next Tuesday’s election.
Sources close to Netanyahu responded carefully, saying that the prime minister would continue to protect the country’s vital national security interests in the coming government that he would lead. The sources noted that Obama had said Israeli-US defense and security cooperation were at unprecedented levels, which was evident in US support for Israeli missile defense systems and diplomatic backing during Operation Pillar of Defense.