President Barack Obama expects Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government to work towards the “two-state solution”, he told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in an interview.
“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,” Obama said in the interview which appears in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper.
“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 continued.
“And 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,” said the American president.
“We look to the new Israeli government and the Palestinians to demonstrate—through policies and actions—a genuine commitment to a two-state solution,” Obama told the newspaper, adding, “Only then can trust be rebuilt and a cycle of escalation avoided.”
“Addressing the lasting impact in Gaza of last summer’s conflict should also be central to any effort,” he continued. “Ultimately, the parties will need to address not just Gaza’s immediate humanitarian and reconstruction needs, but also core challenges to Gaza’s future within a two-state context, including reinvigorating Gaza’s connection with the West Bank and reestablishing strong commercial links with Israel and the global economy.”
Obama’s comments are a continuation of recent world pressure on Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
During the recent election campaign in Israel, Netanyahu angered several Western leaders when he declared in a series of interviews he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
He appeared to backtrack after the election, explaining in an interview that he wants “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution" but adding that his earlier comments were a reflection of changing conditions on the Palestinian side, pointing to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s pact to form a unity government with Hamas.
The White House, however, was not impressed with Netanyahu’s backtracking. Obama’s chief of staff, in fact, dismissed the comments and bluntly warned Israel that its "occupation of Palestinian land" must end.
Obama’s spokesman also declared that since Netanyahu had said he was no longer committed to the two-state solution, “that means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward."