Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Monday comments, in which he claimed to have ordered President Bush to prevent an American vote in favor of the UN Security Council’s Gaza ceasefire resolution and publicly shamed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the process remains a hot story in the Israeli press, and has sparked a war of words between the prime minister’s office and the US State Department.
The State Department immediately contradicted Olmert’s claims, insisting that “the government of Israel does not make US policy.” Spokesman Sean McCormack also suggested that Israel might want to “clarify or correct the record” with respect to the comments. Rice has dismissed Olmert’s claims as “fiction.”
The comments have sparked no small concern in Israel, where the fear is that Olmert’s claims to be able to order the President of the United States around will only increase public opposition in America to Israel’s influence on its foreign policy. Yet spokesmen for Olmert say that the prime minister stands behind his version of events.