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Obama: I Don't See How Israel Remains Both Jewish and Democratic

Without two-state solution, Israel will not remain both Jewish and democratic, U.S. president reiterates. 'We'll see how Trump's approach plays out,' says Obama in final press conference.

Obama speaks during his final presidential news conference, at the White House in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2017.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the status-quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unsustainable, and reiterated his support for the two-state solution. "We'll see how Trump's approach on Israel will play out," he said.

"I don't see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy if there are not two states," Obama told a press conference in the White House, in what is expected to be his last public remarks before he leaves office.

U.S. President Obama holds his final press conference.

Obama also defended a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli settlements, which was severely criticized by Israeli leaders. "The goal of the UN resolution was to say the growth of the settlements will increasingly make a two-state solution impossible," the president said.

"It was important for us to send a signal, a wakeup call that this moment may be passing." 

It is unclear where the incoming administration stands on these issues. While Trump's nominee for Israel ambassador, David Friedman, is a staunch opponent of the two-state solution, the president-elect's Pentagon pick, Gen. James Mattis, called the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace "a vital interest" for the United States and added that in his eyes, the capital of Israel was Tel Aviv. Also on Wednesday, Trump's pick as UN envoy, Nikki Haley, told a confirmation hearing that she is a proponent of the two-state, saying she understands how settlements "can hinder peace."