President Obama has reiterated his support for a two state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and has once again called on the Netanyahu government to accept it. His remarks come just two days after Binyamin Netanyahu formed his third government in a row.
In an interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, the President said, “I will never give up on the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the United States will never stop working to realize that goal.”
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“As I said when I visited Ramallah two years ago, Palestinians deserve an end to the occupation and the daily indignities that come with it; they deserve to live in an independent, sovereign state, where they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity, ” he added.
The question of a two state solution became a factor in the Israeli elections in March when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went back on his promise to support one. He had said in the past that he accepted this as the inevitable outcome of peace negations, but reversed himself in an effort to gain the support of right-wing Israelis.
At the time, this caused a further strain in U.S.-Israeli relations. Netanyahu and Obama have never had a good relationship and the Israeli PM has a reputation for making contradictory promises to different people. He is known for saying one thing to world leaders and another to his party and coalition partners.
While not making any public statements to that affect, it was quite clear that President Obama was hoping for a change in the Israeli government and a victory for its opposition Labor Party in the March elections.
Things became further complicated when Netanyahu then backtracked again immediately following his electoral victory, denying that he had ever gone back on his support for a two state solution.
Regardless, the President’s remarks will not be taken kindly by Israel’s right, and are sure to become fodder for the many declared Republican Presidential candidates who hope to garner the support of Jewish voters in the 2016 elections.
President Obama added “as I said in my speech to the Israeli people on that same trip, peace between Israelis and Palestinians is necessary, it is just, and it is possible. It is also in the national security interest of the United States. That’s why we’ve worked so hard over the years for a two-state solution and to develop innovative ways to address Israel’s security and Palestinian sovereignty needs.”
“We look to the new Israeli government and the Palestinians to demonstrate—through policies and actions—a genuine commitment to a two-state solution. Only then can trust be rebuilt and a cycle of escalation avoided.”