Obama, Sarkozy caught talking behind Israel prime minister's back

Republicans are seizing on comments President Obama made privately at the G20 to argue he is no friend to Israel.

Obama was caught on a live mic talking about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a private conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the talk, Sarkozy slammed Netanyahu, unaware his microphone was on, according to Reuters. "I cannot bear Netanyahu; he's a liar," Sarkozy told Obama in comments overheard by reporters in a separate room who were listening to a simultaneous translation.

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"You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you," Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.

Obama and Netanyahu have long had a strained relationship over Netanyahu's policies toward the Palestinian people, which has led to GOP candidates arguing that Obama is not a true ally of Israel.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was among the first to pounce on Tuesday, saying in a message on Twitter that if Obama does not want to work with Israel, "let's elect someone who will."


Herman Cain pounded Obama for his "foggy foreign policy" in a Friday speech and promised that if elected president he would stand by Israel, a statement that has become commonplace in GOP presidential speeches.

Rick Perry has also criticized Obama on Israel, slamming the president in a September op-ed and speech for how he has handled diplomacy in the region.

Republicans have sought to use Israel as a wedge issue with Jewish voters and to appeal to evangelicals who see Israel as a crucial ally in the Middle East. 

They can be expected to use this latest incident to score points on the issue.