CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. fired back at Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Tuesday after she reportedly claimed the diplomat called Republicans’ policies "dangerous" to Israel -- comments the DNC chief says were "misrepresented."
"I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel,” Ambassador Michael Oren said in a written statement. “Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle."
Oren was responding to a report in the Washington Examiner that quoted Wasserman Schultz as saying Oren agreed “what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel."
The newspaper reported that Wasserman Schultz made the comment Monday while participating in a training session for Jewish Democrats, organized by the Obama campaign a day before the Democratic convention in Charlotte.
Republicans “can’t get anywhere with our community on domestic issues” and instead “do everything they can to lie and distort and mischaracterize this president’s stellar record on Israel,” the newspaper quoted Wasserman Schultz as saying. “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.”
But a spokesman for Wasserman Schultz said Tuesday that the newspaper "misrepresented" the Florida congresswomans's words.
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"What she said is what she has stated repeatedly before: What jeopardizes Israel's security is the suggestion, for partisan political gain, that the election of either political party would weaken the long-standing relationship of the United States and Israel," DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse said. "The Examiner’s piece should be seen for what it is, a blatant misrepresentation of the facts by a conservative outlet."
The back-and-forth Tuesday coincided with a greater point of contention between conservative Israel backers and the Obama administration at this year’s convention. The language in the 2012 Democratic party platform is noticeably different from the language in 2008 – particularly, with regard to Iran and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The 2008 platform stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” and that “The world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
This year, by contrast, the platform adopted Tuesday by Democrats makes no mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. With respect to Iran, the platform reads, “President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution.
“At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options - including military force - remain on the table,” it says.
The 2012 platform says Obama maintains an “unshakable commitment” to Israel’s security, and has worked to increase security assistance “despite budgetary constraints.”
When questioned on the matter, the DNC released a statement, saying, “We focused the platform on President Obama's undeniable and unshakable commitment to Israel's security, and we described the president's unprecedented record in this regard.
“The platform makes it clear that the president seeks peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and that he firmly believes that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel's right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements. The official position of this administration on Jerusalem is no different than the position of numerous previous administrations of both parties - that it is a final status issue to be negotiated directly by the two parties,” the statement read. “This is just another attempt by the Romney campaign to turn our support for Israel - which has always been bipartisan - into a partisan wedge issue by playing politics. This is both cynical and counter-productive to Israel's security."