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Obama: US Won’t Be Able To Defend Israel If Peace Talks Fail

(photo credit: AP/Larry Downing, Pool)

Ahead of meeting with Netanyahu, president says unprecedented ‘aggressive settlement construction’ detrimental to peace process

By Adiv Sterman

Israel can expect to face international isolation and possible sanctions from countries and companies across the world if Benjamin Netanyahu fails to endorse a framework agreement with the Palestinians, US President Barack Obama cautioned on Sunday ahead of a meeting with the Israeli prime minister.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Obama stressed that time was running out for Israel to achieve a peace deal, and added that he believed Netanyahu had the capacity to rally Israel’s citizens behind an agreement.

 But if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach,” Obama said.

“There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices,” he said.

The president went on to stress that he would convey to Netanyahu, in the spirit of the Jewish sage Hillel the Elder, that the prime minister could lead Israel toward peace if he chose to do so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting on February 16, 2014 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

“If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?” Obama said.

The president went on to condemn in no uncertain terms Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank, and said that though his allegiance to the Jewish state was permanent, building settlements across the Green Line was counterproductive and would make it extremely difficult for the US to defend Israel from painful repercussions in the international community.

“If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction — and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time — if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited,” Obama said.

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