US President Barack Obama has said that “it’s hard to envision” the creation of a Palestinian state after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent remarks rejecting the idea, and that the possibilities of a lasting peace right now are “very dim”.
“There still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state,” Obama said on Tuesday at a press conference together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Obama recalled that, on the eve of the Israeli elections last March 17, Netanyahu said about the creation of an independent Palestinian state “on my watch this is not going to happen.”
“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,” the US president said.
Two days later, Netanyahu backtracked and said he did indeed want a two-state solution, but that “under the present circumstances, today, it is unachievable.”
Despite Netanyahu’s explanations, Obama said, “there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework being established that would lead to a Palestinian state. It’s not just my estimation, I think it’s hard to envision how that happens based on the prime minister’s statements.”
Obama recalled that, up to now, “the premise has been both under Republican and Democratic administrations that as difficult as it was, as challenging as it was, the possibility of two states living side by side in peace and security could marginalize more extreme elements, bring together folks at the center and with some common sense we could resolve what has been a vexing issue.”
But because that possibility seems very unlikely right now, it “may trigger reactions by the Palestinians that in turn elicit counter reactions by the Israelis and that could end up leading to a downward spiral of relations that would be dangerous for everybody, and bad for everybody,” Obama warned.
With regard to his dealings with Netanyahu, he said he has a “very businesslike” relationship with the Israeli leader, a term he has also used to describe his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I have met with him (Netanyahu) more than any otherworld leader. I talk to him all the time,” Obama said, “so this can’t be reduced to somehow a matter of let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.'”