Obama to Netanyahu: Your Rhetoric Hurt Peace Talks

'Going to be hard to find a path' where anyone thinks 'negotiations possible'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2015 7:36 AM CDT
President Obama pauses while speaking about Iran and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress, Tuesday, March 3, 2015.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – Elections—and the rhetoric used to win them—have consequences: That appears to be the frosty message President Obama is sending Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of his recently won fourth term, even as the Israeli PM immediately backpedaled on his stance that there would be no chance of a Palestinian state on his watch. Highlights of an interview Obama gave the Huffington Post on Friday:

  • On a Palestinian state: "We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn't happen during his prime ministership, and so that's why we've got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region."

  • On peace talks: "I indicated to him that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible." The New York Times notes that in a clear sign, Obama "waited two full days to place" the traditional congratulatory phone call to Netanyahu.
  • On Netanyahu's statement that Arab Israeli voters would turn out "in droves": "We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel's traditions. That although Israel was founded based on the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly. If that is lost, then I think that not only does it give ammunition to folks who don't believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the meaning of democracy in the country."
  • On nuke talks with Iran: "Frankly, they have not yet made the kind of concessions that are I think going to be needed for a final deal to get done. But they have moved, and so there's the possibility."
More from the interview, which also touched on domestic issues, is here.

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