French President Nicolas Sarkozy told U.S. President Barack Obama last week he was fed up with dealing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and considered him a liar.
Sarkozy made the comment during a private conversation with Obama during a G20 summit in the French riviera town of Cannes last week and the remarks were overheard by a small number of journalists but not initially reported.
“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama during a frank exchange where the U.S. president took him to task for backing a Palestinian request for membership of the U.N. cultural heritage agency UNESCO.
A Reuters reporter was among the journalists present and can confirm the veracity of the comments, which were relayed by a French internet outlet on Tuesday.
Obama said he had to deal regularly with Netanyahu even if Sarkozy was fed up with the Israeli leader, according to the translation of a French interpreter during their Cannes exchange.
In their quest for statehood recognition, the Palestinians have requested membership of the over-arching United Nations system, in addition to its Paris-based UNESCO subsidiary.
France voted in favor of a UNESCO request that succeeded but said last week it would abstain in any vote on membership of the over-arching U.N. system, which Washington has vowed to veto. Paris and Washington are urging renewed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.