(JNS.org) In his first interview with American media after his Likud party’s election victory, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state, if specific circumstances make that a realistic possibility.
“I don’t want a one-state solution,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.”
In a pre-election interview on Monday, Netanyahu had told the NRG website that he would not support Israeli withdrawal from its territory to make room for a Palestinian state, due to the possibility of attacks by Islamic extremists.
“I haven’t changed my policy,” Netanyahu told NBC News on Thursday. “I never retracted my speech at Bar-Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state.”
Netanyahu said he believes “circumstances have to change” for there to be a Palestinian state, adding that current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has made a pact with Hamas that calls for Israel’s destruction.
“And every territory that is vacated today in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces,” he said. “We want that to change so we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace.”
The U.S. State Department on Thursday said it “can’t forget” what Netanyahu said about his position on a two-state solution earlier this week.
“Certainly, the prime minister’s comments from a few days ago called into question his commitment to that,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“We believe he changed his position,” she added. “We can’t forget about those [initial] comments.”
The State Department’s comments come as reports said that President Barack Obama was considering a non-binding resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines and mutually agreed land swaps.