President Obama took a step toward a tougher line with Israel in an interview released Tuesday, raising the possibility that the U.S. will allow a United Nations vote on issues related to the Palestinians if the two sides make no meaningful movement toward peace.
In an interview with an Israeli television station, Obama noted that his administration has “up until this point” quashed such efforts at the U.N. while insisting that the Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate a resolution. But he said it is a challenge for the U.S. to keep demanding that the Palestinians negotiate in good faith if no one believes the Israelis are doing the same. …
Obama’s critical tone toward Netanyahu, describing him as someone who is “predisposed” to “think perhaps that peace is naive,” appeared to return to the tough language that marked administration statements earlier this spring, around the time of the Israeli election. More recently, the White House had seemed to be trying to mend fences.
The apparent shift in tone seems “hard to understand,” said a Democratic strategist with close ties to the White House. Previous White House criticisms of the prime minister clearly strengthened Netanyahu electorally, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid alienating White House officials. “These kind of attacks don’t really hurt him. They help him.”
Obama’s veiled threat about Palestinian statehood lands hard at a time when the U.S. and other world powers are in high-stakes negotiations with Iranian officials to limit their country’s nuclear program.