Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support of Israeli settlements is an obstacle to the creation of a Palestinian state, President Barack Obama told Israel’s Channel 2 Tuesday.
“Bibi says that he believes in the two-state solution and yet his actions consistently have shown that if he is getting pressured to approve more settlements he will do so regardless of what he says about the importance of the two-state solution,” Obama told “Uvda” host Ilana Dayan, according to Reuters.
The turbulent relationship between the Obama administration and that of Netanyahu received what may have been its death blow when the U.S. refused to veto last month’s UN Security Council Resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity. Hopes for a two-state solution have also been gravely challenged by President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and by his appointment of David Friedman, a staunch supporter of settlements, as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
“Increasingly what you are seeing is that the facts on the ground are making it almost impossible, at least very difficult, and if this trendline continues – impossible, to create a contiguous, functioning Palestinian state,” Obama said in the Channel 2 interview.
The President clarified that he does not believe in “unfettered support for Israel,” i.e., unquestioning support for Netanyahu’s governmental policies.
“If that what’s qualifies as a good friend, then I think that we will see a worsening situation over time,” Obama told Dayan. “Because the truth is that this won’t get solved unless the Israeli people and the Palestinians want to solve it.”
Obama defended his administration’s controversial 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which was fiercely protested by Netanyahu. According to Obama, Israeli military and intelligence teams believe the deal “works to achieve the narrow goal that we set out.”
“I was called someone who was betraying Israeli interests,” Obama said, “and we actually have proof now, because we can take a look, and lo and behold, my tough-minded negotiation … has resulted in a much lower possibility of one of Israel’s most powerful enemies obtaining a weapon that would threaten Israel’s existence.”
Though Netanyahu’s says he supports a two-state solution, he believes Israeli settlements are not the true roadblock to peace, which in his view is the Palestinians refusal to accept a Jewish state “in any boundaries.”