In an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric noted President Obama's unpopularity in Israel and pressed Netanyahu to remedy that fact: "To change public opinion in your country, should you be more strongly advocating on his behalf?"
Couric preceded that question by citing a recent poll of Israelis, which she seemed perplexed by: "Can you explain this to me, then? In a poll conducted a month ago – just a month ago – 71 percent of the Jews in Israel surveyed said they dislike President Obama; 47 percent expressed a strong dislike."
Earlier in the interview, Couric tried to gauge Netanyahu's feelings toward Obama: "Do you trust Barack Obama?...surely there have been disappointments with the Obama administration. Can you just be candid with me and tell me how the administration has disappointed you?" While Couric asked about Israeli "disappointments" with Obama, she never cited any specific Obama administration policies or actions as the cause of those disappointments.
On Wednesday's Good Morning America on ABC, co-host George Stephanopoulos repeatedly badgered Netanyahu on ways to improve the U.S.-Israel relationship, placing no responsibility on President Obama to repair the alliance: "One analyst said, this is a false calm. Suggesting that you can't or won't deliver what President Obama is calling for in the peace process. So, what concrete steps are you prepared to take?"
Here is a transcript of the first part of Couric's July 7 interview with Netanyahu:
KATIE COURIC: In other news, it appeared yesterday that President Obama had accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Israel. But today the White House said the trip, is, quote, 'not on the books for this year.'
So have the two leaders really patched up their differences? That was part of the conversation when I interviewed the Prime Minister this afternoon here in New York.
Do you trust Barack Obama?
NETANYAHU: I trust Barack Obama, the President of the United States, to carry out with me the policies that have joined Israel and the United States in what Barack Obama has called the 'unbreakable bond.' We have common goals, common interests, and we now have a job to do to get on with our common goal of achieving peace with security. I trust we'll be able to do that together.
COURIC: While you want to accentuate the positive, clearly – that's part of your mission here in the United States – surely there have been disappointments with the Obama administration. Can you just be candid with me and tell me how the administration has disappointed you?
NETANYAHU: You know, you remind me of the Israeli press. They say 'how come you had a good meeting with President Obama?' Well, because I did. Because we actually see eye to eye on some central issues. The quest for peace, the danger of Iran, the need to bolster security for Israel and the region. That's the truth. We do see it. Have we had differences? Of course we had. But I think some differences-
COURIC: Some awkward moments?
NETANYAHU: Yes, of course we had. So what? Even they are magnified and distorted. I think the President has a fine mind, and I can relate to it.
COURIC: Can you explain this to me, then? In a poll conducted a month ago – just a month ago – 71 percent of the Jews in Israel surveyed said they dislike President Obama; 47 percent expressed a strong dislike.
NETANYAHU: Well, maybe they don't have the opportunity to have the kind of conversations that I had. And maybe they're not aware, also, of the ongoing cooperation between Israel and the United States in the fields of security, intelligence. The fact that the Iron Dome program to protect against missiles is something that has been bolstered by this administration and by this president. We have a common goal to achieve a secure peace. I'm looking forward to working with him to achieve it.
COURIC: Well, to change public opinion in your country, should you be more strongly advocating on his behalf?
NETANYAHU: You know, I invited the President to Israel. I hope that he finds an appropriate time to come. I think that when people get to know him, and first lady Michelle Obama was very kind to my wife, they gave us a very warm reception. I hope I'll be able to – we'll be able to reciprocate in Israel.
COURIC: And later in this broadcast, what Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks the U.S. and Israel can do to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.