Israeli political leaders reacted yesterday to a report on the Bloomberg news website by well-known American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg which claimed, “in [US President] Obama’s view, [Israel’s Prime Minister] Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.”

Goldberg, who writes principally on foreign affairs and in particular the Middle East, said that White House contacts had told him that “on matters related to the Palestinians the President [Obama] seems to view the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] as a political coward” and that privately Obama shared the view that “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”

Although Netanyahu himself has not commented on Goldberg’s column, according to Israel Hayom, senior figures in the Likud Party have suggested that Obama’s alleged comments are an attempt to interfere in Israel’s election next week, in retaliation for Netanyahu’s perceived endorsement of Obama’s opponent Mitt Romney ahead of November’s US presidential election. However, Likud’s Education Minister Gideon Saar simply commented, “Netanyahu will know very well how to work with Obama while at the same time safeguarding Israel’s interests.” Meanwhile, another senior Likud minister Gilad Erdan dismissed Goldberg’s report as “gossip a journalist wrote, and the facts suggest that the opposite is true.”

However, head of Hatnuah and former-foreign minister Tzipi Livni endorsed the sentiments of Obama’s reported comments, describing it as “a wake-up call for all Israelis.” She said, “If there isn’t a dramatic change and people sitting on the fence don’t go out and vote, Israel will keep heading into isolation that will lead to violence.”