On Friday, President Obama addressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State in his attempt to garner support for a fourth term as Prime Minister.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Obama said he took Netanyahu “at his word” when he said that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine would not be reached under his watch.
“We’re going to make sure, regardless of disagreements we have on policy, that our military and intelligence cooperation to keep the Israeli people safe continues and that cooperation also helps the American people stay safe,” Obama said. “But we are going to continue to insist that, from our point of view, the status quo is unsustainable. And that while taking into complete account Israel’s security, we can’t just in perpetuity maintain the status quo, expand settlements. That’s not a recipe for stability in the region.”
Reuters reported that despite the “the urgency of renewed, structured and substantial efforts towards peace” expressed by the European Union, the United States will not speak at the annual United Nations debate on Israeli violations in Palestinian territories on Monday.
During an interview with Israeli news website NRG last week, Netanyahu promised that if re-elected as Israeli Prime Minister he would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
“I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
With opinion polls prior to the election showing Netanyahu’s Likud falling behind Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union, he urged citizens to vote, claiming that the right-wing government is in danger, due to the fact that “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls,” and “Left-wing organizations are busing them out.”
Netanyahu won in a narrow victory on Wednesday with his Likud party winning 30 seats and surpassing Herzog’s Zionist Union, which won 24 seats.
Obama told the Huffington Post that when he called Netanyahu on Thursday to congratulate him on the Likud party’s victory, he said that given Netanyahu’s statement prior to the election, “it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible.”
“We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions,” Obama said. “That although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly.”