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Israeli minister summons former ambassador to US over Obama criticism

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JERUSALEM — Israel's finance minister distanced himself on Thursday from claims by the country's former ambassador to the U.S., a member of his party, that President is purposely damaging bilateral relations.

said in a letter to America's ambassador to Israel that he "summoned" , now a lawmaker in his Kulanu party, to his office after learning that Oren had expressed his views in an op-ed this week in the Wall Street Journal. The Associated Press on Thursday received a copy of the letter.

Kahlon said Oren's comments reflected his personal views only, and praised Obama for supporting Israel.

Oren said Obama abandoned longstanding principles of U.S.-Israel relations by openly disagreeing with Israel and not coordinating with it over changes to Mideast policies.

U.S. State Department spokesman called Oren's account "absolutely inaccurate."

Traditionally strong U.S.-Israeli ties have been strained under Obama and Netanyahu, who are divided over nuclear talks with Iran and peace efforts with the Palestinians.

" is not a member of the government. His recent article in the Wall Street journal reflects his own views," a senior official in the Israeli prime minister's office said anonymously according to protocol.

"Netanyahu has consistently expressed his appreciation...for all that President Obama has done for Israel's security."

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