President Obama said Tuesday that the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian peace “seems very dim” in the wake of pre-election remarks last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that he is evaluating “how we manage Israeli-Palestinian relations over the next several years.”
“What we can’t do is pretend there’s a possibility of something that’s not there,” Obama said during a news conference with visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. “For the sake of our own credibility, I guess we have to be honest about this.”
His remarks were the sharpest in a series of U.S. expressions of barely concealed anger since Netanyahu, appealing to the far-right Israeli vote, said there would be no Palestinian state while he was prime minister.
Obama acknowledged that Netanyahu had issued several “correctives” since his victory in the March 17 elections, but the president made clear that he “took him at his word” the first time around, as did “a lot of voters inside Israel.”
“Afterwards, he pointed out that he didn’t say ‘never,’ but there would be a series of conditions,” Obama said of explanatory remarks Netanyahu has made since the elections. “But, of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet anytime soon.”