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Netanyahu Criticism Over U.S. Vote Hurts Ties: Steinitz

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz today said “baseless claims” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interfered in the U.S. presidential election damage relations between the two nations.

Steinitz, speaking to Israel Radio, criticized remarks made by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday at a meeting of American-Jewish leaders in New York. According to the Haaretz daily, Olmert said Netanyahu intervened on behalf of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Steinitz pointed to U.S. approval last month for a loan-guarantee program as an indication that Israeli-American ties are as strong as ever even amid disagreements between Netanyahu and Obama over such issues as how to contain Iran’s nuclear program and advance the peace process with the Palestinians.

Some of Netanyahu’s political opponents have said the prime minister’s public criticism of the Obama administration’s Iran policies in the months before the election were intended to also aid Romney’s electoral chances.

Israeli elections are scheduled for Jan. 22.

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