World Bulletin / News Desk
U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks prior to the Israeli elections have made it hard to find a path for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to resume.
"Given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible," Obama told the Huffington Post.
Three days before Israel’s elections on Tuesday, Netanyahu asserted that he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state if he were to win.
But while speaking to a U.S. national news outlet on Thursday, the prime minister backtracked on those comments and said, "I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution."
However, neither President Obama nor senior administration officials seem satisfied with the Israeli leader's retreat.
"I had a chance to speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday and congratulated his party on his victory," Obama said. "I did indicate to him that we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic."
He added that with respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict "the status quo is unsustainable."
The U.S. has repeatedly opposed the recognition of Palestine statehood at the UN, but the administration has also long been asserting its unhappiness about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
"While taking into complete account Israel's security, we can't just in perpetuity maintain the status quo and expand settlements. That's not a recipe for stability in the region," the American leader said.
The president did not say what Netanyahu's response was regarding his emphasis on the two state solution during the phone call, but he noted, "We take him at his word when he said that it creation of a Palestinian state wouldn't happen during his prime ministership."
"That's why we've got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region," he added.
Obama also slammed Netanyahu's warning on election day about Arab voters heading to the polls "in droves" and said that the rhetoric was contrary to the best of Israel's traditions.
Noting that Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly, he suggested that if this premise is lost it will start "to erode the meaning of democracy in the country."
Netanyahu's Likud Party won 30 of the Knesset's 120 seats in the elections, while its main rival, the center-left Zionist Union, won 24 seats.
President Obama was also asked about the impact of Netanyahu's election victory on the White House's ability to sell an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
"I don't think it will have a significant impact," Obama responded, noting that there has already been significant skepticism in Israel about Iran.
The president added, however, that Iran is yet to make the concessions the U.S. has been expecting.
The negotiators of the U.S., China, France, Russia and the UK – plus Germany – also known as the P5+1 and Iran have been working in Swiss city of Lausanne to produce a framework of a comprehensive deal by the end of March.
"Frankly, they (Iranians) have not yet made the kind of concessions that are I think are going to be needed for a final deal to get done," Obama said.
Obama's comments came hours after the U.S. secretary of State John Kerry said that the world powers and Iran has made a "genuine progress" before he left Lausanne for London.
The U.S. president, however, said that, "It's premature to suggest that there is a draft out there. What is true is that there has been movement from the Iranian side. We are consulting with the P5+1."Last Mod: 22 Mart 2015, 10:10