US President Barack Obama has called Benjamin Netanyahu and congratulated him on his electoral victory, days after a poll campaign that witnessed provocative statements from the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister that strained ties between them.
“The President emphasised the importance the US places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries,” the White House said, two days after Netanyahu’s surprise victory in the elections.
The Israeli Prime Minister has been constantly at loggerheads with President Obama and his recent efforts to undermine the US leader by addressing the Congress without coordinating with the White House has widened the rift.
Netanyahu’s righ-wing Likud party won 30 out of 120 seats in the Knesset and is now likely to form the next coalition government with partners on the right and the centre.
During the call yesterday, Obama and Netanyahu agreed to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the White House said.
“The President reaffirmed the US’ long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine,” it said.
“On Iran, the President reiterated that the US 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 programme,” the White House said.
It was in the clear interest of Israel to establish a Jewish and democratic state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with a sovereign Palestinian state, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest earlier said.
“That is a way for us to defuse tensions in the region. It’s not going to defuse all of them, but it certainly would substantially reduce tensions in the region. And it would, of course, serve the national security interests of the US. But it’s the best way for us to provide and protect the Israel people,” he said.
“It doesn’t remove all threats but it certainly is the way for us to resolve what is a prominent point of contention in this region of the world. And the comments from Prime Minister Netanyahu to walk away from that commitment just this week has prompted the United States to evaluate our position on these matters going forward,” he added.
Earnest said this commitment to a two-state solution has been the bedrock of a lot of US policy towards the region in terms of making decisions.
“The United States has repeatedly intervened in some of those debates at the UN and other places by saying the best way for us to solve this problem is to get the two parties to sit down at the negotiating table, resolve their differences so that this two-state solution can be realised,” he said.
But now the Prime Minister of Israel says earlier this week, days before an election, that this is a principle that he no longer subscribes to and that his nation no longer subscribes to, Earnest said.
“That means the United States needs to rethink our approach, and now that that foundation has been eroded, it means that our policy decisions need to be reconsidered. And that’s what we will do,” Earnest said.