Angered by Netanyahu’s hard-line platform toward the Palestinians, top Obama officials would not rule out the possibility of a change in American posture at the United Nations, where the U.S. has historically fended off resolutions hostile to Israel.
And despite signals from Israel suggesting that Netanyahu might walk back his rejection, late in the campaign, of a Palestinian state under his watch, Obama officials say they are taking him at his word.
“The positions taken by the prime minister in the last days of the campaign have raised very significant substantive questions that go far beyond just optics,” said a senior administration official, adding that recent Israeli government actions were in keeping with Netanyahu’s rhetoric.
While saying it was “premature” to discuss Washington’s policy response, the official wouldn’t rule out a modified American posture at the United Nations, where the U.S. has long fended off resolutions criticizing Israeli settlement activity and demanding its withdrawal from Palestinian territories.
“We are signaling that if the Israeli government’s position is no longer to pursue a Palestinian state, we’re going to have to broaden the spectrum of options we pursue going forward,” the official said.Netanyahu has walked back the comments.
Mr. Netanyahu said in an interview on MSNBC that he still wanted “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that he had not intended to reverse the position he took endorsing that in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University. But he said the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and its pact with the militant Islamist Hamas movement, made that impossible right now.
“I haven’t changed my policy,” Mr. Netanyahu said in the interview, his first since his resounding victory on Tuesday, which handed him a fourth term. “What has changed is the reality.”
His description of the reality is correct, but I think it's been that way all along. And whether or not Netanyahu intended to reverse the Bar Ilan speech remains to be seen. In the meantime, the Obama administration will seize Netanyahu's Tuesday comments as a way to do what Obama has wanted to do all along.“I don’t want a one-state solution; I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that, circumstances have to change,” he added. “I was talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable. To make it achievable, then you have to have real negotiations with people who are committed to peace.”
What could go wrong?