White House: Netanyahu Did Not Sufficiently Clarify His Position on Palestinian State

Netanyahu's 'divergent comments call into question his commitment to a two-state solution,' White House says; UN chief Ban, Germany's Merkel and France's Hollande voice similar concern to Israeli prime minister.

AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not sufficiently clarify his position on a Palestinian state during his phone call with U.S. President Barack Obama, the White House said on Friday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at a daily briefing that the administration "has doubts" whether Netanyahu's remarks to U.S. media in the past several days – in which he said he does support a two-state solution – represent the prime minister's "true view."

Earnest was asked at the briefing whether Netanyahu clarified his position during the phone call with Obama on Thursday. "I would say that was not the result of the call," Earnest replied cynically, adding that it is unclear which of Netanyahu's statements on a Palestinian state should be believed.

"The divergent comments by the prime minister call into question his commitment to a two-state solution," Earnest added. "He indicated a weakness in his commitment [to a two-state solution] And I think that's putting it charitably."

Criticism of Netanyahu's remarks against a Palestinian state was also leveled by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who spoke on the phone with the Israeli premier on Friday. According to a statement released by the UN, Ban asked Netanyahu to recommit himself to a two-state solution. "The two-state solution is the only way forward," Ban told Netanyahu.  

European diplomats say German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande relayed similar messages to Netanyahu in phone calls on Thursday and Friday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius released a statement Thursday following the elections in Israel, stressing that France expects the new Israeli government to "show responsibility and take swift steps to allow the Palestinian Authority to function properly and to renew negotiations over a comprehensive and final peace agreement." Fabius added that "only the establishment of a sustainable and sovereign Palestinian state, that would coexist alongside Israel in peace and security, would ensure peace and prosperity in the Middle East."