The United States still believes Israel's long-term security is best served by reaching an agreement to live alongside a recognized Palestinian state, President Barack Obama said Thursday, according to AFP.
Obama was speaking shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formed a new coalition, which the world sees as likely to further strain ties with the Palestinians.
"I continue to believe a two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state," Obama told a press conference at Camp David, where he is meeting Gulf leaders for talks on the impending Iranian deal.
"I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don't necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise," he added.
Noting that he was speaking at Camp David, Obama referred back to a 1978 deal negotiated at the same presidential retreat that brought peace between Israel and Egypt.
"Israel is better off for it. I think the same would be true if we get a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.
"That prospect seems distant now, but I think it's always important for us to keep in mind what's right and what's possible," added Obama.
Thursday’s comments are the latest in what appears to be growing international pressure on Israel to accept the “two-state solution” in order to achieve peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Earlier this week, Obama said in an interview that he expects Netanyahu’s new government to work towards the “two-state solution”,
“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 Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, adding, “Only then can trust be rebuilt and a cycle of escalation avoided.”
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."