Obama: US Can’t Base Policy On ‘Dim’ Peace Hopes Under Netanyahu


obama13President Barack Obama expressed doubt Tuesday about the prospect of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians emerging in the coming years under Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, and indicated that no decision would be made about changing Washington’s policy of shielding Israel at the United Nations until a new coalition is formed.

Netanyahu “has a different approach” that rejects a two-state solution, making the possibility of a framework deal “dim,” Obama said at a press conference at the White House on Tuesday, a reference to pre-election comments made by the PM – since clarified – that a Palestinian state would not be created under his watch.

After the election, Netanyahu walked back on those comments, telling NBC: “I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution” but stressing the grave dangers posed to Israel and the region and the rejectionist positions of the Palestinian leadership. The White House, however, has rejected Netanyahu’s clarification.

Regarding US support for Israel at the UN, which includes using its veto at the Security Council, Obama said: “We are going to do that evaluation. We’re going to partly wait for an actual Israeli government to form.”

Netanyahu is expected to form his new government over the next few weeks, following the Likud party’s victory at the polls last week.

Amid widely circulated reported indications of frosty ties between the president and the Israeli prime minister, Obama said his personal relationship with Netanyahu was “businesslike,” that he’s met him more times than any other world leader, and that he speaks to him regularly.

Obama also said that military relations between the two countries were unaffected by the current diplomatic spat and that aid to Israel to maintain its military superiority in the region would continue “unabated.”

The president maintained that he believed Netanyahu was opposed to the two-state solution, despite the prime minister’s comments to the contrary, and said the US could no longer base its policy on “something everyone knows is not going to happen.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu in the election run-up stated that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was prime minister, and 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 fairly unequivocally,” Obama said at the press conference with Afghani President Ashraf Ghani.

“So even if you accepted the corrective of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s in subsequent days, there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state even if there were a whole range of conditions and security requirements that might be phased in over a long period of time, which was always the presumption,” Obama said.

Obama stressed that the two-state solution would be a long-term process that would address Israel’s security concerns.

“The issue has never been ‘do you create a Palestinian state overnight.’ The issue is ‘do you create a process and a framework that gives the Palestinians hope, the possibility that down the road they have a secure state of their own standing side by side with a secure and fully recognized Jewish state of Israel,'” he said.

“It’s not just my estimation, but it’s hard to envision how that happens based on the prime minister’s statements,” he added.

The president also cautioned that the lack of peace talks could deteriorate into violence.

“That possibility [of peace] seems very dim, and that may trigger then reactions by the Palestinians that in turn elicits counter reactions by the Israelis and that could end up leading to a downward spiral for relations that will be dangerous for everybody and bad for everybody,” he said.

Obama said he speaks with Netanyahu often, and chided the press for focusing on their relationship, which has reportedly grown exceedingly frosty, and not on the issues.

“He is representing his country’s interests the way he thinks he needs to and I’m doing the same. The issue is not the relationship between leaders,” he said. “We believe two states is the best path forward for Israeli security, for Palestinian aspirations and regional stability. Netanyahu has a different approach and so this can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya.”

Read more: The Times of Israel



  1. Can this kal make a kal v’chomer? If Israel, who has bent over backwards to make concessions over the years, is regarded as only presenting dim prospects for peace, then what can be said about the Palis who don’t make concessions and turn down every proposal offered to them? Olam hafuch!

  2. Op-Ed: Basic Laws in the Jewish State

    February 10, 2013

    The time has come to deal with the issue of the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and to regulate the fundamental principles underlying the status-quo in legislation.

    Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
    The writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha

    The New Knesset’s Mission

    Recently, calls for a review of the status-quo in regards to religious matters have been voiced. Indeed so! The time has come to deal with the issue of the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and to regulate the fundamental principles underlying the status-quo in legislation.

    Some people maintain that Israeli society is gradually distancing itself from the religious principles that guided the individuals who fixed the status-quo, and in our day and age, it is no longer fitting to impose religious practices by means of legislation, as in the past. However, taking a look at the list of the new Knesset, it is evident that the process is exactly the opposite – society at large understands the need to strengthen the Jewish identity of the State, and the various political parties complied with their wishes by adding religious candidates to their ranks.

    As a result, there are nearly forty religious Members of Knesset today, and out of several others who are not regarded religious – many consider themselves to be traditional, and openly declare that the Jewish identity of the State is extremely important to them.

    Regulating the Jewish Identity of the State in ‘Basic Law’

    The time has come to pass a ‘chok yesod’ (Basic Law) regulating the status of Shabbat observance in all government and public frameworks. It is inconceivable that Shabbat, a value so central to the life of our nation, receives expression simply in interim agreements, or municipal bylaws. Just as the value of ‘kavod adam v’heruto’ (human dignity and liberty) is regulated in ‘Basic Law’, and not dependent on the goodwill of each and every decent and moral individual, so too, Shabbat must be regulated in ‘Basic Law’.

    Presently existing laws concerning the status of marriage and divorce, according to which family relationships or their annulment are determined by ‘halakha’ (Jewish law) in Rabbinical courts, should also receive the superior status of ‘Basic Law’. After doing so, solutions can be found for personal and exceptional issues in various regulations, but such issues cannot interfere with the State of Israel regulating the sanctity of the family in ‘Basic Law’.

    Presently, due to personal and exceptional issues, the Supreme Court gnaws away at the status of the Rabbinical courts and Jewish family values, in the name of the ‘Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty’. Regulation of marriage and divorce laws in ‘Basic Law’ will prevent this dangerous erosion.

    The well-known ‘Law of Return’ must also be regulated as a ‘Basic Law’, seeing as it is one of the most distinct signs of the State’s Jewish identity, and because it is not a ‘Basic Law’, the Supreme Court gnaws away at, it in the name of democracy.

    The observance of ‘kashrut’ (Jewish dietary laws) in government and public institutions should also be regulated in ‘Basic Law’.

    The Jewish character of the I.D.F. must also be regulated in ‘Basic Law’, thereby allaying many of the concerns of the hareidi community.

    The status of Torah study in yeshiva’s should also be regulated in ‘Basic Law’, as being one of the most essential values of the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish nation in its return to Zion.

    Judaism and Democracy

    Many representatives of secular society constantly claim that the State of Israel is “Jewish and democratic”. If so, it is unimaginable that the democratic side of the equation receives backing and significance in ‘Basic Law’ and in various other ordinary laws as well, while the Jewish side receives only limited and inferior expression in ordinary law. This imbalance creates a situation in which all legal conflicts between secular, liberal values and Judaism – Judaism is at a disadvantage.

    It should be remembered that our Knesset still has the status of a ‘Constituent Assembly’, and consequently, it has the authority to enact Basic Laws, similar to drafting chapters to a constitution.

    A committee of distinguished rabbis and legal representatives should be established to prepare a set of basic and ordinary laws, in order to legally regulate the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

    The United States and Israel

    Some people argue it would be better if all matters concerning Jewish identity were subject to freedom of choice, consistent with the principles of separation of Church and State in Western countries. The most prominent example of this is the U.S., where there is complete separation between religion and state, and at the same time, religion occupies an important place.

    In actuality, the U.S. is a completely secular country. True, religion has an important place in the lives of the individuals living there, but as a country, it is secular. This is because the U.S. is a land of immigrants of different nationalities and religions, where the only common denominator is citizenship, and not nationality or religion. In contrast, the State of Israel was established by the Jewish Nation, out of the anticipation of generations of Jews to return the Land of Israel and build there a Jewish state, as envisioned by the Prophets.

    The Individual and the Collective

    Some people claim it is preferable for all religious matters to be left to freedom of choice, and as proof for this, they bring up the mitzvah of ‘brit milah’ (circumcision), where there is no law requiring one to do so, but nevertheless, over 90% of the public circumcise their sons out of free choice. Their claim, however, is based on a mistaken comparison between the individual and the collective. The mitzvah of ‘brit milah’, as well as ‘Leil ha’Seder’ (Passover evening celebration), are mitzvoth that the individual performs, while Shabbat, family status, the Law of Return, education, etc., are mitzvoth which receive expression in a public and national context, as well.

    By nature, all public interests are burdensome on the individual to some extent. Nevertheless, everyone understands that when it comes to essential interests, it is necessary to regulate them in law, and not leave them to the free choice of each individual. Can the health system be based on the willingness of volunteers?! Can road traffic function adequately relying simply on the politeness of drivers?! Can tax collection be left to the goodwill of the citizens?! Education as well cannot function simply according to the absolute freedom of choice of parents. Therefore, anyone who cares about the Jewish identity of the State of Israel, must act to regulate its’ Jewish principles in Basic Laws.

  3. Obama narrowed down his choice for his legacy. He is currently reviewing Haman’s and Paroh’s scripts before deciding which of the two roles he wants to assume.

  4. What about the explicit and ‘bright’ statements by Iran and the Palis that Israel absolutely must be destroyed?
    Can you base policy on that?

  5. What a terrible destructive man is now occuppying the White House. He wants to: #1:Make it clear to the Palestinians that they have no hope of reaching a two-state solution with Netanyahu as prime minister. Then he wants to: Make it clear that, #2:He is therefore EXPECTING them to wage war and terror against Israel, about which the Palestinians should feel quite confident in assuming that Israel will not get any meaniningful financial and military-related help from the US to defend themselves, let alone any support in the World Arena. He will just justify the terror and atracks on the Israeli poulation chalila, who elected Netanyahu to derail a two-state sosution. So what his plan is here for Israel is, to actually ENCOURAGE and craftily actually BACK massive atracks against Israel, so that the Israeli population turns against Netanyahu and brings in a puppet of Obama, who will bring Israel back to the 1948 armistice lines
    This is serious stuff we are facing here. Make no mistake about what this guy is doing.

  6. Mr President / Dictator – get over your tantrum – BUTT OUT of Israel’s business. Make the Muslims TALK PEACE not piece, not rockets, not guns, not tunnels, not bombs…………….

  7. Raboisa Zeheerus! Anachnu bein ha’amim afilu im harasha merusha hanoheg! Hakol bidey shamayim chutz Myirais shamayim!

  8. To borrow a sport’s term, can we trade this guy? Or better yet, can we put him on waivers? Maybe Iran would pick him up.