US defence secretary wanted Netanyahu banned from the White House

By Daniel Easterman, January 14, 2014
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Former United States Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who served in the administrations of both presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, tried to ban Prime Minister Netanyahu from the White House, it has emerged.

Drawing on key excerpts from Mr Gates' new autobiography, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War", journalist Jeffrey Goldberg quotes the former Defence Secretary and CIA director as saying that he was "offended by his [Netanyahu's] glibness and his criticism of US policy - not to mention his arrogance and outlandish ambition".

"I told national security adviser Brent Scowcroft that Bibi (Netanyahu) ought not be allowed back on White House grounds," he wrote.

Mr Gates said he thought the Israeli Prime Minister was "ungrateful" for the extensive arms sales and defence co-operation between Israel and the US under the Obama administration, while the US had received nothing in return - particularly in terms of progress in Israel's peace talks with the Palestinians.

Despite this, the former Defence Secretary said that he had an emotional bond towards the Jewish state as a whole and considered himself to be a "strong supporter and friend".

But he also had grave concerns regarding the country's future. Mr Gates warned particularly of Israel's "demographic challenges" in the West Bank and its failure to successfully court allies in the Arab world to combat the threat of a nuclear Iran.

"Given a Palestinian birthrate that far outpaces that of Israeli Jews, and the political trends in the region, time is not on Israel's side," he said.

Last updated: 10:12am, January 14 2014