JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel apologized on Monday for making what were widely condemned as racist comments last week in saying that Arab citizens were voting in “droves.”
But even as he spoke with a group of Israeli Arabs gathered at his Jerusalem residence, the White House issued a new signal that it remained furious with Mr. Netanyahu for campaign comments that also appeared to close the door on a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict.
In the days since the Israeli election, Mr. Netanyahu has been denounced for two statements he made toward the conclusion: his assertion that no Palestinian state would be established on his watch, and his alarm over voting by Israeli Arab citizens. He has been trying, with limited success, to backpedal on both.
In Washington, Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, said in a speech Monday that Mr. Netanyahu’s pre-election assertions about Palestinian statehood were “very troubling.” It was the latest in a series of public scoldings by senior members of Mr. Obama’s team, including one by the president himself, rejecting the prime minister’s attempts to explain himself.“After the election, the prime minister said that he had not changed his position, but for many in Israel and in the international community, such contradictory comments call into question his commitment to a two-state solution,” Mr. McDonough told the annual conference of J Street, a pro-Israel group aligned with the Democratic Party.