Olmert versus Adelson: the gloves are off

The aftermath of the US presidential elections has spilled over into the Israeli election campaign as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most vocal critic and staunchest supporter engaged in a high-profile war of words.

Last week in New York, Israel’s former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, castigated his successor for interfering in the American elections, saying that it “represents a significant breach of the basic rules governing ties between nations, made worse by the fact that these are allies like Israel and the United States.”

Mr Olmert added: “Our prime minister intervened in the US elections in the name of an American billionaire with a clear interest in the vote.” He was referring to casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson who donated around $700 million to the Republican Party in an attempt to unseat President Obama. He is also Mr Netanyahu’s most prominent supporter overseas.

Mr Adelson hit back. In his own paper, Yisrael Ha-Yom, and in the Jerusalem Post, he described Mr Olmert’s accusations as “a curious conspiracy theory… he is crediting me with a degree of power that I simply don’t have. Netanyahu has always maintained a neutral position vis-à-vis the US presidential election”.

Last updated: 4:45pm, November 15 2012