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Marco Rubio lashes out at Obama for failing “to respect” Netanyahu

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Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor on Thursday afternoon to lash out at President Obama for failing to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following his Likud Party victory in Israel’s elections on Tuesday.

“In March of 2012, he was among the first to call Putin in Russia,” Rubio began. “Or that in June in 2012, he was among the first to call Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood when they won the Egyptian presidency.” He went on to mention the election victories of the Chinese, Turkish and Iranian leaders in recent years. “Time and again, this president has made a habit of quickly calling these leaders when they win. But as of 4:40 eastern time, as far as I know, this call has not been made.”

Rubio then brought up a series of critical comments President Obama or members of his administration have said about the Israeli government going back to the fall of 2008. And he criticized the White House for their criticism of Netanyahu’s divisive language regarding Arab voters going to the polls, statements that were criticized by many officials and media in Israel.

That was too much for the Florida Senator.

“That is saying lot by someone elected at least once, if not twice using extremely divisive language,” he said, referring to Obama’s elections. However he said that when the Iranian government appeared to have a fraudulent election and killed protestors in the street, the U.S. refused to condemn that government.

Part of the White House’s reluctance may be centered on how Netanyahu campaigned in the waning hours of the election, when he asserted that there would be no Palestinian state established under his watch, a notable and significant reversal in policy shared by both the U.S. and Israel for many years.

Rubio said he agreed with Netanyahu that current conditions don’t exist for a two-state solution. The conditions for peace do for a peace deal, with people who teach their children that killing Jews are a glorious thing.”

“This is not a situation where the prime minister is creating some daylight between himself and President Obama,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday. “It’s creating some daylight between Democrat and Republican presidents in the United States and every single member of the House of Representatives.”

But Rubio disagrees. “This President is making a historical mistake,” he said of Obama’s strained relationship with Netanyahu. “This is a historic and tragic mistake,” adding that it wasn’t a political issue. “If this was a Republican president doing these things, I would be giving the exact same speech. In fact, I would be even angrier.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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