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Monday, 23 March 2015

Barack Obama’s top aide says Israeli ‘occupation’ must end

Dennis McDonough says the White House isn’t impressed with Israeli prime minister’s effort to backtrack on campaign comments.
 
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made clear in a speech to a left-leaning Israel advocacy group that President Barack Obama isn’t letting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off the hook for his dismissal of a two-state solution.
 
That stance, as well as Netanyahu’s suggestion also made in the closing days before last week’s Israeli elections that he’d approved settlements in contested territory in Jerusalem for the strategic purpose of changing the borders are “so very troubling,” McDonough told J Street’s annual conference in Washington.
 
He called the pro-Israel group, which opposes some of Netanyahu’s policies, “our partner.”
McDonough added that the White House isn’t impressed by Netanyahu’s efforts since last Tuesday to backtrack on what he meant when he said there wouldn’t be a Palestinian state established so long as he’s prime minister.
 
“We cannot simply pretend that these comments were never made,” McDonough said.
  McDonough said the Obama administration is well aware of the regional security problems Netanyahu referenced in explaining why he didn’t see a two-state solution as an imminent possibility. But he said Obama does not believe that is or could be reason to back off talks — and this is not simply matter of personal “pique” about Netanyahu, the chief of staff said.
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