Two Days Later, Obama Phones Netanyahu

President Obama calls Netanyahu to congratulate him on his elections victory, but also reaffirms his commitment to the "two-state solution".

Elad Benari,

Obama and Netanyahu
Obama and Netanyahu
Reuters

President Barack Obama on Thursday finally called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election win.

Obama spoke to the Israeli leader "to congratulate him on his party's success in winning a plurality of Knesset seats," the White House said, according to AFP.

"The president emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries," the White House statement said.

Ties have been tested by Netanyahu's pledge on the campaign trail to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, which had been the starting point of countless rounds of Middle East peace negotiations.

Obama waited two days before making the normally routine congratulatory call, though Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyahu on Wednesday.

The White House said that during the conversation, Obama "reaffirmed the United States' long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine."

While  Netanyahu declared in a series of interviews this week he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, he appeared to backtrack on this statement on Thursday, telling NBC, "I don't want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.”

He explained that his earlier comments were a reflection of changing conditions on the Palestinian Arab side, pointing to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas's pact to form a unity government with Hamas, which Israel, the U.S. and most European countries consider a terrorist organization.

"I'm talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable," Netanyahu said Thursday, insisting that he would support a demilitarized Palestinian state under a plan that would ensure Israel's security.




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