Netanyahu backs off opposition to a Palestinian state

Published March 19th, 2015 - 05:09 GMT

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied on Thursday that he had abandoned his commitment to creating a Palestinian state, but said current political conditions made that possibility more remote.

"I don't want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change," Netanyahu said in an interview on MSNBC, appearing to back away from comments he made during the Israeli election campaign that drew heavy US criticism.

The day before Israel's election, with polls showing he could lose, Netanyahu declared that the Palestinians would never have a state on his watch.

It was a sweeping statement that flew in the face of his own past commitments and 25 years of international efforts to arrive at a two-state solution to the conflict: Israel and an independent Palestine living side-by-side.

In the MSNBC interview Netanyahu said, "I think there's an unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States. The president [President Barack Obama] said that, and I said that." 

Netanyahu said that he had not yet spoken to Obama following Tuesday's election, but he was sure they would speak soon.

He stated  that America has no greater ally than Israel, and Israel has no greater ally than the US. 

"We can have differences but we have so many things that unite us and we have a situation in the Middle East that is very dangerous and presents a common challenge to us," Netanyahu added. 

Netanyahu defended his controversial decision to speak to the US Congress on the Iranian nuclear issue at the beginning of the month.  

"We have our differences on Iran, but coming to the US, I didn't mean any disrespect or any attempt at partisanship. I felt it was my obligation to speak about something that could endanger Israel," Netanyahu said.   

In the wake of Netanyahu's resounding election victory the White House has expressed severe concern regarding the Likud leader's campaign rhetoric and noted turnaround against the establishment of a Palestinian state. 

In the MSNBC interview, Netanyahu dismissed allegations he was racist.

"I'm not," he said. 

On Election Day in Israel on Tuesday, Netanyahu warned that funding from foreign governments to get more Israeli Arabs to vote worked, "which means all right-wing voters must make sure to go to the polls."

“The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses,” he said.

According to several administration officials, the Obama administration is now seriously considering agreeing to the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution "embodying the principles of a two-state solution that would include Israel’s 1967 borders with Palestine and mutually agreed swaps of territory," according to The New York Times.


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