President Barack Obama said that Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s terms for diplomacy that might lead to a Palestinian state meant Israel had lost international credibility as a potential peacemaker, Reuters reports.
Obama also suggested that continued U.S. diplomatic defense for Israel at the United Nations over the Palestine dispute may be reviewed, while reaffirming U.S. support for Israeli security in a conflict-riven Middle East.
In an interview with Israeli television aired on Tuesday, he offered a bleak outlook for decades of negotiations on Palestinian statehood bearing any fruit during the 18 months he has left in office.
“I don’t see the likelihood of a framework agreement,” Obama said in an interview with Uvda, a current-affairs program produced by Israel’s top-rated Channel Two and Keshet television. “The question is how do we create some building blocks of trust and progress.”
While Obama has acknowledged the geographical and ideological divisions among Palestinians that have bedeviled peace efforts, in the interview — taped in the White House on Friday — he focused on Netanyahu’s policies.
Obama said Netanyahu’s position “has so many caveats, so many conditions that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met at any time in the near future.
“So the danger is that Israel as a whole loses credibility. Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution.”
Obama said now was the time for a re-evaluation of “how we approach defending Israel on the international stage around the Palestinian issue.”
“Well, here’s the challenge. If in fact there is no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there is a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation,” he said.
“It is more difficult for me to say to them, ‘Be patient, wait, because we have a process here.'”