In the wake of his administration’s recent refusal to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, departing President Barack Obama sought to downplay the impact of his administration’s decision on U.S.-Israel relations.
“Because of our investment in the region, and because we care so deeply about Israel, I think [America] has a legitimate interest in saying to a friend, ‘This is a problem.’ It would have long-term consequences for peace and security in the region, and the United States,” Obama told the CBS program “60 Minutes” Sunday, adding that he doesn’t believe his administration’s move at the U.N. “caused a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel.”
While the Obama administration has consistently criticized Israeli settlement construction during the last eight years, peaking in the administration’s break from longstanding U.S. policy by allowing December’s U.N. measure targeting Israel to pass, the incoming Trump administration has expressed that it does not consider the settlements an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
In what was expected to be his final interview as president, Obama also addressed the Iran nuclear deal, which was another point of U.S.-Israel tension during his presidency over Israeli objections to the American-brokered agreement between Iran and world powers.
“If you’re saying that [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu got fired up [about the U.N. resolution], he’s been fired up repeatedly during the course of my presidency, around the Iran deal and around our consistent objection to settlements. So that part of it wasn’t new,” Obama said.