Israeli stance on Palestine difficult to defend at UN: Obama

Jerusalem, June 3 (IANS/EFE) US President Barack Obama has argued that statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against a Palestinian state make defending the Jewish state difficult in the face of European initiatives to recognise the Palestinian Authority at the UN.

“If nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation, it’s more difficult for me to say to them ‘Be patient!’ … Because, all they need to do is to point to the statements that have been made saying there is no process,” Obama said candidly in an interview on Tuesday night with an Israeli network, published by Haaretz on Wednesday.

Regarding European initiatives to recognise a Palestinian state, Obama explained: “Up until this point we have pushed away against European efforts for example, or other efforts. Because we’ve said, the only way this gets resolved is if the two parties worked together. Well, here’s the challenge. If in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process.”

In recent years, the guaranteed US veto prevented the UN Security Council from advancing several resolutions that condemn the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and demand action to end the conflict.

Netanyahu earlier said during his election campaign that there would be no Palestinian state under his rule, but later retracted the statement and showed his willingness to start a new process of dialogue with the Palestinians.

However Obama viewed Netanyahu’s stance as having “so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met anytime in the near future”, while he added that the danger was that the whole country “loses credibility”.

“Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution. The statement the prime minister made compounded this belief,” he said.

Obama also expressed concern about “Israeli politics that’s motivated only by fear”, which can lead to “a loss of those core values that, when I was young and I was admiring Israel from afar, were the essence of this nation”.

“There are things that you can lose, that don’t just involve rockets,” the US president said.

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