Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli media on Saturday that he hopes U.S. President Barack Obama would not force a one-sided political solution on Israel before he leaves office, and that the next American president will maintain the longstanding policy of vetoing UN Security Council resolutions on Israel.
Netanyahu, who is currently in the U.S. for the UN General Assembly, met with Obama in New York this week, and is set to meet Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Sunday. His remarks came amid Israeli concerns that Obama will try and push a Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the elections in November and before he leaves office on January 20.
Talking to Israeli media, Netanyahu admitted that the issue was not raised during his meeting with the president, but he said that he hoped Obama’s conduct over the years would continue until the end of his term. "I even quoted him (Obama) at the UN when I said that peace isn't reached through UN resolutions," Netanyahu said, referring to Obama's speech at the General Assembly in 2011. "That’s true. It’s done by hard but vital negotiations between the parties," he added.
In the interview, Netanyahu said that even though he blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of not fighting against terrorism, his invitation to the Knesset, made during his UN speech, remains open.
"If I rejected contacts with Arab leaders based on what they said about Israel, even if they are infuriating, I don’t think that would be helpful," Netanyahu said. He also said that he sees seeds of change in the perception of Israel and Jews in the Arab world. "These are things that show me that at least with some of our neighbors, there is a growing recognition that they can’t move relations with us ahead if they don’t change the terrible propaganda against Israel," he said, adding: "I hope that will happen with the Palestinians, it still hasn’t happened."
With regard to the court-mandated eviction of the West Bank outpost of Amona, Netanyahu said: "We are making a special effort to reach a solution with Amona and with other Amonas," he said. Amona, a small outpost built on private Palestinian land near Ramallah, is set to be evicted by December 25. This week, 24 cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and Knesset members from Netanyahu's Likud party signed a petition calling to legalize Amona and avoid its eviction.
"We are a law-abiding country. There is court ruling here, that is a very complex thing," Netanyahu told reporters. "And so I don’t want to make statements lightly. We are working, I am working, to find a creative solution to this problem and future problems."
Netanyahu also told Israeli reporters that he didn't regret his controversial phone call to the family of Elor Azaria, the soldier charged with killing a subdued and wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron in March. "I speak to many parents in distress whose sons were killed or are missing and here citizens of Israel are very distressed," Netanyahu said.
"There are parents who see their children… in an almost impossible situation. They have to protect themselves on the one hand and on the other, not to have too quick a trigger finger," he added.
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