Obama faces criticism for Netanyahu gaffe

In happier times: Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama

In happier times: Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama

A Republican presidential hopeful has called on President Barack Obama to apologise for his recent comments about Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.

It emerged yesterday that the President and France's Nicolas Sarkozy had expressed their dislike of Mr Netanyahu during what they believed to be a private conversation.

President Sarkozy said he viewed the Israeli leader as a liar and Mr Obama responded: "You are sick of him, but I have to work with him every day."

With a year to go until the presidential election, GOP candidates are rushing to highlight their pro-Israel credentials and win support from Jewish voters.

Michele Bachmann, at one point the front-runner for the party's nomination but now widely seen to have little chance of succeeding, called on President Obama to apologise for the gaffe.

"The president should demonstrate leadership and I demand that the French president, Sarkozy, [should] do the same," she said. "The president has made some tragic errors in his foreign policy."

Republican Senator John McCain also responded to the incident, telling reporters: "The French have always been like that…the United States should know better.

"Israel is under more pressure and probably in more danger than they've been since the 1967 war. That kind of comment is not only not helpful, but indicative of some of the policies towards Israel that this administration has been part of."

The Anti-Defamation League said the conversation was "decidedly unpresidential."

The hate monitor's national director, Abraham Foxman, said he hoped that the Obama administration would "do everything it can to reassure Israel that the relationship remains on a sure footing and to reinvigorate the trust between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which clearly is not what it should be."

Last updated: 10:02am, November 9 2011