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March 5, 2014 3:53 pm

Report: State Department Sources Say Obama Sabotaged Peace Talks With Goldberg Interview Conducted Behind Kerry’s Back

avatar by Gidon Ben-Zvi

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: U.S. Department of State.

President Barack Obama’s recent statements on the current state of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have sabotaged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to iron out a framework agreement between the two sides, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Wednesday citing high level sources.

Specifically, aides to the Secretary of State referenced Obama’s interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, published just hours before the President was to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ma’ariv said.

During the interview, Obama warned of a “bleak future” and a “demographic disaster” if Israel does not support a U.S.-drafted framework peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

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“There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices,” Obama told Goldberg.

Obama went on to ask a series of rhetorical questions that seemed to preemptively blame Israel for a possible failure of peace talks: “Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?”

According to one of Ma’ariv‘s sources, “The interview, which was held without Kerry’s prior knowledge, was a harsh personal attack against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has undermined his [Kerry’s] best efforts.”

A second source told Ma’ariv that, “Kerry’s greatest fear is that the interview will cause both Netanyahu and the Israeli public to lose faith in the [U.S.] government.”

There are several theories regarding Obama’s possible motivation for granting the interview, Ma’ariv reported. Some Washington insiders have speculated that the U.S. President is not up-to-date regarding the progress that has been made behind closed doors between Kerry and Netanyahu. As a result, Obama vented his frustration at what he perceives as a peace process that’s at an impasse, Ma’ariv said.

Another source even claimed that Obama may be jealous of Kerry’s diligence and diplomatic skill, Ma’ariv said. According to this train of thought, the President is compensating for a first term plagued by his own failure to orchestrate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority by now taking over the reigns from a Secretary of State who has been praised for his stick-to-it approach.

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