Obama admits differences with Netanyahu over 2-state policy

Obama admits differences with Netanyahu over 2-state policy

Obama admits differences with Netanyahu over 2-state policy

US President Barack Obama has said that he has a business like relationship with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while acknowledging that they have differences over a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Addressing a joint press conference with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Obama said, "I have a very businesslike relationship with the Prime Minister. I've met with him more than any other world leader. I talk to him all the time. He is representing his country's interests the way he thinks he needs to, and I'm doing the same."

Obama maintained that a two-state solution was "the best path forward for Israel's security, for Palestinian aspirations and for regional stability."

"Prime Minister Netanyahu has a different approach. So this can't be reduced to a matter of somehow let's all, you know, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. This is a matter of figuring out how do we get through a policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and for the region," he said in response to a question.

The US President said he took Netanyahu at his word that there would not be a two-state solution in the Middle East as long as he is in power.

"I took him at his word that that's what he meant and I think that a lot of voters inside of Israel understood him to be saying that unequivocally," Obama said.

He said Netanyahu's election-eve comments ruling out a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict require his administration to re-evaluate its approach toward advocating for peace between them.

"What we can't do is pretend that there's a possibility of something that is not there. We can't continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen, at least in the next several years," he said.

Obama, however, said the US would continue to cooperate with Israel on security, military and intelligence front.

"I think it is hard to envision how that happens, based on the prime minister's statements. When I said that we have to now do an evaluation of where we are, it's not in reference to our commitment to Israel's military edge in the region, Israel's security, our intelligence cooperation, our military cooperation. That continues unabated," he said.

Obama said Netanyahu's efforts to clarify his comments set forward a series of conditions in which a Palestinian state could potentially be created "but of course the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet any time soon".

"So even if you accept it, I think the corrective of Prime Minister Netanyahu's in subsequent days, there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state,even if there were a whole range of conditions and security requirements that might be phased in over a long period of time, which was always the presumption," he said.

Obama is considering introducing a UN resolution that establishes the parameters and definitions for a two-state solution, a move that will be mightily opposed by the Israeli government and Republicans in Congress.

On being asked about it, Obama said, "The evaluation that's taking place is specific to what happens between Israelis and Palestinians going forward. We'll continue to engage the Israeli government as well as the Palestinians, and ask them where they are interested in going and how do they see this issue being resolved."

Meanwhile, the US President said that an agreement with Iran would prevent the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"If, in fact, an agreement is arrived at... will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It's gonna be there for everybody to see. And people are gonna be able to lift up the hood and see what's in there," Obama told reporters.

Obama said his administration has kept the Congress and Israelis in loop on this issue.

"We have not just briefed Congress about the progress or lack thereof that's being made, but we also briefed the Israelis and our other partners in the region and around the world," he said.

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