White House Declines to Deny Obama Remarks on Netanyahu
by Zach Pontz
The White House has declined to confirm, deny or retract controversial statements made by President Obama about Israel first reported by U.S. journalist Jeffrey Goldberg Tuesday.
“With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation,” Goldberg wrote.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, in a statement to POLITICO on Tuesday, did not confirm or deny that Obama made the comment “or what was allegedly discussed in private meetings.”
Vietor said Tuesday that the United States “has been and remains committed to the goal of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“The President has been very clear in stating what he believes is a realistic basis for successful negotiations, and we will continue to base our efforts on that approach,” he said. “It is in Israel’s interest to pursue peace.
“Both parties need to get serious and resume direct talks to work through the difficult issues that divide them and make meaningful progress toward a lasting peace. We need to be focused on productive action that will move the parties toward direct negotiations. The United States will continue to support both parties vigorously in such efforts.”
Plans were announced Tuesday for 198 new housing units in the West Bank, drawing criticism from many on the left who accuse Netanyahu of purposefully antagonizing the U.S. President.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich was particularly explicit in her comments.
“Instead of listening to criticism, Netanyahu is behaving irresponsibly and provocatively a week before the election,” she stated. “The battle against [Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali] Bennett is more important to Netanyahu than facing Obama.”