​White House pushes Palestinian statehood in face of Netanyahu win

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015. (Reuters / Nir Elias)
The White House says that a two-state solution is still the best way to resolve the dispute in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu promise this week to prevent further establishment of a Palestinian state notwithstanding.

“A two-state solution is the best way to address this conflict,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, according toUSA Today.

Netanyahu said earlier this week on Monday that he would fend off efforts to create a Palestinian state if he’s re-elected as prime minister of Israel. On Wednesday, the leader declared himself victorious following a narrow win against challenger Isaac Herzog of the center-left Zionist Union.

US President Barack Obama had yet to congratulate Netanyahu on his win as of Wednesday afternoon, and Earnest, the White House spokesman, said he anticipated that a phone call between the two would occur in the coming days. In 2013, Obama waited nearly a week to call Netanyahu after he narrowly won that year’s election.

David Simas, a political director for the White House, told CNN on Wednesday that the administration wanted to “give space to the formation of that coalition government” before extending its congratulations.

“Now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks,” he said. “And we're not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward.”

The relationship between Obama and Israel has been rocky in recent weeks, especially after the president declined to attend an event in Washington in which Netanyahu spoke before Congress upon invitation of Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House speaker. Netanyahu used the address to urge American lawmakers to reject the administration’s efforts to ink an agreement with Iran concerning the nation’s nuclear ambitions, and the rift between the executive and legislative branches was driven fwider when 47 of the 54 Republican senators wrote to Iran urging the country to abandon any talks with the White House.

In addition to warning about the possibilities of a nuclear Iran, Netanyahu this week rekindled the discussion concerning Israel’s embattled neighbor, Palestine.

“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu told NRG this week. “The left has buried its head in the sand time and after time and ignores this, but we are realistic and understand.”

“Mr. Netanyahu has done nothing in his political life but to destroy the two-state solution,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel, told Reuters in response.