Reporting from Washington — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert boasted Monday that he successfully pressured President Bush last week to reverse course on U.S. diplomacy over fighting in Gaza, in an episode that could sharpen tensions between the close allies at a sensitive moment.
Speaking to an audience in Ashkelon, Israel, Olmert said he had called Bush last Thursday and convinced him that the United States should not vote for a pending U.N. Security Council resolution urging a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
Olmert said Bush’s agreement “embarrassed” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice because the resolution was one that she had “cooked up, she organized, she formulated, she maneuvered,” according to comments reported by Israel Radio.
“And she was left pretty embarrassed, abstaining on a draft resolution she organized herself,” Olmert added.
“This is terrible for the United States,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator. “This confirms every assumption they have in the Arab world about the tail wagging the dog. . . . It’s a story you’re likely to hear quoted there for years to come.”
Levy also accused Olmert of “unparalleled arrogance.” Olmert, who is about to leave office, may have thought mistakenly that his words would not be widely noticed.
“There are some things you don’t say, even in Ashkelon, even in Hebrew,” said Levy, who is now with the Century Foundation in Washington.