Washington, 7 Jumadil Akhir 1436/27 March 2015 (MINA) – Reflecting growing tensions between the US and Israel after last week’s elections, US President Barack Obama warned that Israeli Prime Minister’s remarks on Palestine have “dimmed” prospects for a two-state solution in the occupied territories.
“I think it’s hard to envision how that happens based on the prime minister’s statements,” Obama said on Tuesday, March 24, On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
“I’ve said before and I’ll simply repeat: Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, in the election run-up, stated that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was prime minister.
“And I took him at his word that that’s what he meant.”
Obama’s comments followed the landslide victory of rightist Netanyahu last week after campaigning against a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Moreover, Netanyahu pledged to go on building settlements on occupied land and said there would be no Palestinian state if he was re-elected.
With 99.5% of votes counted, Likud won 29-30 seats in the 120-member Knesset, comfortably defeating the Zionist Union opposition on 24 seats. A united list of Arab parties came in third.
Announcing plans to weigh new polices to manage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama stressed that his differences with Netanyahu are not “personal”, instead they are based on “fundamental policy differences over Middle East peace”.
“The issue is not a matter of relations between leaders,” Obama said, noting that he has a “very businesslike relationship” with Netanyahu, Reuters reported.
“This can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s all, you know, hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ This is a matter of figuring out how do we get through a real knotty policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and for the region,” Obama said.
Obama’s anti-Israel remarks came a day after the White House chief of staff said that Israel must end its 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The chief of staff Denis McDonough expressed skepticism over Israel’s commitment to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
“Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,” McDonough told a meeting of liberal American pro-Israel lobbyists, J-Street, The Independent reported.
“An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”
On Tuesday, Obama warned that Netanyahu’s policies would encourage more violence in the region.
“We can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen, at least in the next several years,” Obama said, warning the issue could escalate.
“That may trigger, then, reactions by the Palestinians that, in turn, elicit counter-reactions by the Israelis, and that could end up leading to a downward spiral of relations that will be dangerous for everybody and bad for everybody.”
Meanwhile, Palestinians reeling from decades-old suppressive policies reacted on Obama’s stance against Netanyahu by telling Obama: “We told you so”.
“Ever since [Netanyahu] came to power in 2009, he did not have any intention whatsoever to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” said Maen Areikat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s representative to the United State, told ABC News.
“I think he is telling the world, ‘Here I am. I want to show you my true skin.”
For Islamic Jihadist leaders in Gaza, Netanyahu’s victory is the best thing for Palestinians to avoid confusion over the brutality of Israel.
“The election of Benjamin Netanyahu has been the best outcome for the Palestinian people,” the political chief of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Khaled al-Batsh, said.
“It means there is no confusion. We are seeing the true face of Israel, a face that does not want peace, and we know at least what to expect.” (T/P011/P3)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)