(JNS.org) The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Thursday urged the Obama administration to “recommit to improving” the U.S.-Israel relationship after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” AIPAC criticized the White House for rebuffing Netanyahu’s remarks.
Netanyahu, who a day before the Israeli election said that a Palestinian state would not be established under his watch, clarified his position on Thursday by telling NBC News that he supports a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state—the same conditions behind his support for a two-state solution in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University.
“I don’t want a one-state solution,” Netanyahu said Thursday. “I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that despite Netanyahu’s clarification, the pre-election comments showed he was “no longer committed to a two-state solution,” and that “means that the United States is in a position to re-evaluate our thinking.”
“Certainly, the prime minister’s comments from a few days ago called into question his commitment to [a two-state solution]. … We believe he changed his position,” said State Department spokeswomen Jen Psaki. “We can’t forget about those [initial] comments.”
AIPAC said in a statement, “Unfortunately, administration spokespersons rebuffed the prime minister’s efforts to improve the understandings between Israel and the U.S. In contrast to their comments, we urge the administration to further strengthen ties with America’s most reliable and only truly democratic ally in the Middle East. A solid and unwavering relationship between the U.S. and Israel is in the national security interests of both countries and reflects the values that we both cherish.”