Obama says Israel vote won’t affect Iran nuke talks

Obama also said that he takes Netanyahu ‘at his word’ for saying that an independent Palestinian state will never co-exist with Israel

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Israel’s elections, which saw Benjamin Netanyahu clinch a third term, will not greatly affect Barack Obama’s defense of any deal reached with Iran, the U.S. president said.

“I don’t think it will have a significant impact,” Obama told The Huffington Post in an interview Friday published in full on Saturday.

Iran and six world powers are in negotiations to clinch a landmark deal that would have the country scale back its controversial nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions.

Netanyahu won re-election this week after a close-fought parliamentary campaign.

Obama - Israel
Obama - Israel

The Israeli leader opposes any accommodation with Tehran and came to Washington during his election campaign to address US lawmakers, denouncing the agreement under negotiation as a “bad deal.”

Two-state solution

In the interview, Obama also said that he takes Netanyahu “at his word” for saying that an independent Palestinian state will never co-exist with Israel as long as he is in office.

Netanyahu has backpedaled since he stunned the U.S. and the international community by announcing that dramatic policy reversal on the eve of his re-election Tuesday.

“We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Obama said.

Obama, who placed a congratulatory telephone call to Netanyahu on Thursday, said he indicated to the prime minister that the U.S. remains committed to a two-state solution as the only way to keep Israel secure.

“And I indicated to him that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible,” Obama said.

Tensions between the Obama administration and Netanyahu escalated as the March 17 Israeli elections neared.

Obama said U.S.-Israeli military and security cooperation would remain unchanged, regardless of disagreements on policy.

“But we are going to continue to insist that, from our point of view, the status quo is unsustainable,” he said. “And that while taking into complete account Israel’s security, we can’t just in perpetuity maintain the status quo, expand settlements. That’s not a recipe for stability in the region.”

[With AFP]

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