President Barack Obama said hopes for a two-state solution have dimmed, given Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-election comments that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch.
"We can't continue to premise our public diplomacy on something that everybody knows is not going to happen, at least in the next several years," the U.S. president told reporters at a news conference.
"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," he continued.
Obama also clarified that the issue between him and the Israeli Prime Minister isn’t a “matter of relations between two leaders” and is instead based on “fundamental policy differences over Middle East peace.” However, there is no denying that Netanyahu, for his part, has proven himself untrustworthy not only when it comes to his policies pertaining to the Middle East but also as an individual leader or an elected official who could be (really) difficult to deal with.
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First of all, Bibi upstaged the leader of another state in a bid to influence the foreign policy of that country – especially when he himself was in the middle of a reelection campaign.
Later, in a last-minute effort to appeal to Israeli conservatives as Israel headed to the polls, Netanyahu warned that high Arab voter turnout is endangering the right-wing party – a comment that was widely criticized as racist and rightly so.
As if this wasn’t inappropriate enough to pull in the right-wing voters, Netanyahu went as far as backtracking on his promise for Palestine statehood, vowing that if he got re-elected as the head of government, a separate Palestinian state would not be created – not on his watch.
He apologized for both the statements later, obviously, only after his party won the Knesset – although it would have been better had he not.
Here’s why: By apologizing for his incendiary comments after winning, Netanyahu made it clear that he was a leader who couldn’t be trusted with matters as serious and important as Palestinian statehood – and that he could easily forget old promises for the sake of future victories. His backtracking only proved that he could lie his way to success, thinking everybody else would forgive and forget.
But the no one has forgotten or forgiven anything – especially not the Obama administration that declared last week that the United States would reconsider its support for Israel at the United Nations.
It’s not a far-fetched assumption by Obama that Palestinian statehood is not possible under Netanyahu’s reign – Bibi himself is responsible for this record level of mistrust between the U.S. and Israel.