Obama Congratulates Netanyahu But Warns About Two-State Solution

President Barack Obama speaks on the phone during a conference call hosted by the American Lung Association and other public health groups to discuss new commonsense steps to reduce carbon pollution from power plants... President Barack Obama speaks on the phone during a conference call hosted by the American Lung Association and other public health groups to discuss new commonsense steps to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, June 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) MORE LESS
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Updated: March 19, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid new tensions between two allies, President Barack Obama on Thursday called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election victory two days ago, relieving pressure from critics for not embracing the Israeli leader’s success sooner.

The call came as the White House continued to push back against Netanyahu’s pre-election rejection of a two-state solution to Palestinian-Israeli peace.

The White House said in a statement that Obama stressed the United States’ close security cooperation with Israel, but also emphasized the U.S. commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel.

On another sensitive subject, Obama addressed negotiations with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program and said he was focused on a deal that would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the White House said. Netanyahu has been a vocal critic of Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran.

Earlier Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner had mocked the Obama administration’s chilly reaction to the Israeli prime minister’s election victory.

Asked by a reporter about the administration lukewarm response to Netanyahu’s win, Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “Lukewarm?” and laughed heartily.

Since Netanyahu’s election triumph this week, the White House has said the U.S. will have to reconsider its approach to Mideast peace given the prime minister’s hard veer to the right in the campaign. On Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest specifically mentioned that in the past the U.S. has repeatedly cited the goal of creating a Palestinian state when it has intervened on behalf of Israel in the United Nations.

In an interview Thursday with MSNBC, Netanyahu appeared to walk back from his earlier remarks, saying he could support a demilitarized Palestinian state if conditions in the region change.

Earnest said Netanyahu’s earlier comment, however, “raises questions about his commitment to a two-state solution.”

Earnest also criticized anti-Arab rhetoric used by Netanyahu’s party in the lead-up to the election as a “cynical election day tactic (that) was a pretty transparent effort to marginalize Arab-Israeli votes.”

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough will give a speech Monday to a major advocacy group that opposes Netanyahu.

McDonough’s address to the J Street group indicates that the administration will seek to strengthen voices that challenge Netanyahu.

J Street is an Israel advocacy group that often criticizes the Israeli government — and especially Netanyahu. The group called Netanyahu’s election victory a “deep disappointment” and accused him of winning by shredding U.S. bipartisanship on Israel and “preying on fear and racism at home.”


Associated Press writers Josh Lederman and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Notable Replies

  1. Re: Fitting alot into one paragraph…

    “The President emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries.”

    Obama Rosetta Stone: “Laugh all the way to the PM seat, slick, but keep in mind that you are depend on us for military, intelligence and financial aid and that I AM STILL SITTING IN THE POTUS SEAT FOR THE NEXT 2 YEARS.”

    “The President reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine.”

    Obama Rosetta Stone: “Your bullshit changed nothing about my positions and goals and I’m still going to pursue them. Deliberately thwart me at your own risk (see above).”

    “On Iran, the President reiterated that the United States is focused on reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and verifiably assures the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.”

    Obama Rosetta Stone: “Same goes for Iran. Your demagoguery got you elected in Israel, not the US, Captain Demagogue. Remember that.”

  2. Being a dem this is hard to say, Netanyahu is a lying pos, and Obama is a chicken sh*t!

  3. Avatar for pshah pshah says:

    Obama shows a lot of class, as usual. It couldn’t have been easy for him after watching Netanyahu violate all ethics/protocol while giving that speech in front of Congress, then actively disavow a two-state solution while demogoging against Israeli-Arab voters. I would have had a very hard time making that call.

    I wonder if Netanyahu called him after he beat Romney.

  4. Why is Obama a chickenshit? By being big enough to make the call, he makes it harder for Bibi to evade accountability.

  5. Pollyanna go grow up.

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