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You’ve likely seen there’s now a dispute over what was said in President Biden’s and Prime Minister Netanyahu latest phone call. Unnamed senior administration officials say Netanyahu made clear he’s not necessarily opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, despite having categorically ruled it out a day before. After those comments from the White House Netanyahu’s office put out a new statement insisting he said no such thing.

This is quite significant but not because of the specifics of what was said or potential support for a two-state solution. Opposition to a Palestinian state is the most consistent and defining element of Netanyahu’s career in politics going back four decades. Given what a schemer he is, though, I think it’s likely he did say some version of this in the call with Biden. But the real issue here is that saying this publicly is something the White House knew would immediately cause Netanyahu trouble with members of his coalition. He would have to respond and deny it. This is best seen as the White House signaling its done with Netanyahu or at least moving toward a more adversarial stance toward his government.

I’m not saying we’re in the process of some big dramatic break. But the consequences of doing this were and are obvious. So best seen in that context.

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