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Netanyahu Says Some Try to Drive Wedge Between Israel, US

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to criticism from political rivals over his relationship with President Barack Obama after the Democrats retained control of the White House, saying relations with the U.S. remain firm.

“In recent days, I have been hearing voices that are coming from among us that are trying to stir things up between us and United States,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony in the coastal city of Ashdod today, according to an e-mailed statement from his office. “This will not help them. The alliance between Israel and the United States is strong.”

Ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is among political foes who criticized Netanyahu this week for allegedly favoring Republican challenger Mitt Romney over Obama in the presidential race.

“What took place this time was a breaking of all the rules, when our prime minister intervened in the U.S. elections,” Olmert told a meeting of American-Jewish leaders in New York yesterday, according to a report in the Haaretz daily.

Netanyahu publicly criticized the Obama administration’s position on Iran in the months before the Nov. 6 election because it hadn’t set a “red line” on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. The two leaders have also clashed over how to advance the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

“I will continue to work with President Obama to advance the vital interests of the State of Israel regarding the security of Israel’s citizens,” Netanyahu said today.

Israeli elections are scheduled for Jan. 22.

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