President Obama continued his criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, revealing that their relationship is “businesslike.”
In a news conference, on Tuesday, Obama hinted that the two leaders don’t get along by saying bluntly that they have a “businesslike relationship.” The president also offered his view on Netanyahu’s approach to the Iran negotiations as well as the peace process with Palestine. The relationship appears to have been strained after reports emerged alleging that Israel had been spying on the Iran negotiations, though the Obama administration has distanced itself from such claims.
The majority of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s conflict comes from their stances on the Israel/Palestine conflict, and Obama was pressed on the issue during Tuesday’s news conference. He declined to comment on what the U.S. response would be to Palestine’s efforts to seek United Nations (U.N.) recognition, and said that hopes for peace in the Middle East are “dim.”
“What we can’t do is pretend that there’s the possibility of something that’s not there, and we can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something everyone knows is not going to happen,” he said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made headlines recently for saying prior to his re-election that there would be no two-state solution as long as he was in power – a comment that the Obama administration and many Americans strongly criticized. Netanyahu later walked back his previous statement, saying that he would be open to a two-state solution as long as certain security conditions were met. President Obama said on Tuesday that he took Netanyahu’s original comments to mean the way they sounded, and didn’t accept his clarification.
“I took him at his word that that’s what he meant, and I think that a lot of voters inside of Israel understood him to be saying that fairly unequivocally,” he said. “Even if you accept it, I think, the corrective of Prime Minister Netanyahu in subsequent days, there still does not appear to be the prospect of a meaningful framework. The issue has never been do you create a Palestinian state overnight, the question is: Do you create a process and a framework that gives the Palestinians hope?”
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