NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a staunch supporter of the State of Israel, once again questioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to pursue a peaceful settlement and an end to the conflict with the Palestinians.
Two weeks ago, a day after Netanyahu disavowed the creation of a Palestinian state in an appeal to his right-wing base, de Blasio said he was “deeply disappointed” with the Israeli premier’s comments. “There’s many of us who are deeply, deeply disappointed, ” the mayor, representing the largest gathering of Jews outside Israel, told reporters. “For a Israeli prime minister to say literally overnight we’re not going to pursue a two-state solution anymore is seismic and it’s a huge step backwards for peace in the region.”
Netanyahu immediately clarified his remarks, stating, “I said the conditions have to change. I said that I don’t think that these things hold today but I think the conditions have to change. You know, I don’t want a one-state solution. But I certainly don’t want a zero-state solution, a no-state solution, where Israel’s very existence would be jeopardized. And that’s what the people of Israel overwhelmingly elected me to do.”
But that clarification didn’t seem to have registered with the liberal mayor. “I am very troubled that on the eve of the elections he reversed a previous position, and now he has reversed it again. So it does not give me a lot of confidence, ” de Blasio told JP during an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn on Tuesday. “As someone who cares deeply about peace in that region, the two state solution is the only way for it.”
“I hope that from this point on the Israeli government will express a clear commitment to a two state solution, ” he added.
Despite the criticism, de Blasio said that he’s ‘absolutely’ still planning to travel to Israel in the summer.
A poll published on Monday indicated that support for a two-state solution is at nearly a 20-year low among Americans. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 39 percent of expressed support for a two-state solution, down from 58 percent in 2003. 36 percent of Americans expressed outright opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state. But the percentage of respondents supporting a two-state solution is lower than at any time since 1998.
De Blasio also commented about the ongoing negotiations with Iran, saying he supports President Obama’s attempt to reach a solution “to an extraordinary crisis that would best be solved through an agreement.”
“If an agreement can’t be reached, then of course we should – as a nation – aggressively exercise sanctions. But the goal should be to come up with an approach that is actually livable for the long term, and that’s what they are trying to achieve, ” the mayor said. “I would not be shocked if they reach a solution and I would not be shocked if they fall apart.”