Obama Says Netanayhu Remarks About Arabs ‘Erode Meaning of Democracy’
JNS.org – President Barack Obama said in an interview published by The Huffington Post on Saturday that his administration would “evaluate” its “options” in the Middle East due to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent comments on a two-state solution.
On Thursday, Netanyahu said he supports a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state—the same conditions he proposed for a two-state solution in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University. But a day before the March 17 Israeli election, Netanyahu had said a Palestinian state would not be established under his watch.
“We take [Netanyahu] at his word when he said that [a Palestinian state] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Obama said.
Regarding Netanyahu’s pre-election expression of concern about high Israeli Arab voter turnout, Obama said, “We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions. That although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly. And I think that that is what’s best about Israeli democracy. If that is lost, then I think that not only does it give ammunition to folks who don’t believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the meaning of democracy in the country.”
Obama vowed to continue working with Israel on military and intelligence operations, but declined to confirm if his administration would continue to block unilateral Palestinian efforts to secure statehood through the United Nations, according to The Huffington Post.