Obama officials have made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they are not accepting his seemingly about face on support for a two-state solution.
Administration officials repeatedly made statements on Thursday that they would have to “re-evaluate” their policies and approach towards Israel and the peace process.
The prime minister, in a move many see as trying to mend ties with US President Barack Obama, said on Wednesday that he never retracted his 2009 statement that calls for a Palestinian state.
Speaking to MSNBC on Thursday, Netanyahu said, “I never retracted my speech at Bar-Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state.”
“What has changed is the reality,” he continued. “[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] the Palestinian leader refuses to recognize the Jewish state and has made a pact with Hamas that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, and every territory that is vacated today in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces. We want that to change so that we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace. I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that, circumstances have to change.”
The White House and State Department were not so welcoming of Netanyahu’s about face.
When asked about the prime minister’s post-election comments, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded, “Prime Minister Netanyahu was the prime minister three days ago as well. We believe he changed his position three days ago.”
Psaki insisted that “our preference is for a two-state solution negotiated between the parties. His comments three days ago brought into question his commitment to that.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnst reiterated Psaki’s sentiments, telling reporters that “after the comments, it’s pretty clear that Israel is no longer committed to [a two-state solution].”
Meanwhile on Thursday, after waiting several days, Obama called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his re-election.
Obama spoke to the prime minister “to congratulate him on his party’s success in winning a plurality of Knesset seats,” the National Security Council said in a statement.
According to the White House, the president “emphasized that importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries.”
The two leaders “agreed to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”