Written by Staff Writer
On Friday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu awarded an honorary doctorate to President Barack Obama at Bar-Ilan University. The guest list also included President Obama’s wife, Michelle.
“I want to congratulate Michelle and President Obama on your new family,” Netanyahu said in his address to the President and first lady. “I think they can unite Israel more easily now than they could have a few weeks ago.”
Netanyahu would have used similar language, but when the White House cameras snapped, Netanyahu paused in mid-sentence, telling the President, “F**k him,” then simply continuing on to his scheduled remarks.
During an appearance at the Newseum in Washington on Sunday, Netanyahu was asked about the exchange with Obama. When the Palestinian-American moderator said it was “good news,” Netanyahu interrupted him, saying he wasn’t “trying to play games” and that he was “just being straight up.”
When the moderator asked Netanyahu if he meant “loyalty” to the country, Netanyahu replied, “I love Israel. I love the American people, I love the Obama family. I love all the people who are here today.”
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.
Netanyahu’s message to Obama left supporters of the White House administration puzzled, with some recalling that in the course of a press conference earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence — who doubles as a very vocal proponent of Israel — had used the phrase “the American people” four times, adding, “I don’t know how you could be unpatriotic.”
Asked why Trump was involved in the exchange, at a press conference in Jerusalem, the President responded, “He was just messing around.”