Obama: Israeli settlements “contributing factor” to conflict with Palestinians

Outgoing US President Obama addresses Israel-US relations, UN resolution in final interview as president; Obama criticizes Netanyahu

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In an interview with 60 Minutes from Sunday aired midweek, outgoing United States President Barack Obama addressed US-Israel relations as well his decision to not veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 that labels Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem as illegal.

When asked about the resolution causing “a major fallout between the United States and Israel” and whether it was Obama’s decision to abstain, the President answered “Yes, ultimately”, stating that the United States abstaining the resolution did not cause “a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel.”

Obama then directed his answer to include Prime Minister Netanyahu stating “If you’re saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu got fired up, he’s been fired up repeatedly during the course of my presidency, around the Iran deal and around our consistent objection to settlements.”

Obama stated that despite the passing of Resolution 2334 and alter in US- Israel relations, which he referred to as “noise and hullabaloo”, that “military cooperation, intelligence cooperation, all of that has continued,” adding that the “We [the United States] have defended them [Israel] consistently in every imaginable way. “

President Obama went on to claim that Israeli settlements have been a significant factor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the decision to abstain at the Security Council was for both states national interests, Obama stating “I also believe that both for our national interests and Israel’s national interests that allowing an ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that could get worse and worse over time is a problem. And that settlements contribute. They’re not the sole reason for it, but they’re a contributing factor to the inability to solve that problem.”

When asked whether the resolution was “to make a point, Obama responded “Not only did I want to make that point. We are reaching a tipping where the pace of settlements, during the course of my presidency has gotten so substantial that it’s getting harder and harder to imagine an effective, contiguous Palestinian state. And I think it would have long-term consequences for peace and security in the region, and the United States, because of our investment in the region, and because we care so deeply about Israel, I think has a legitimate interest in saying to a friend, “This is a problem.” And we’ve said it- look, it’s not as if we haven’t been saying it from day one. We’ve been saying it for eight years now. It’s just that nothing seemed to get a lot of attention.”