US President Barack Obama, in an interview aired on Israeli television on Tuesday, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu policy backing settlements in occupied territory is making a future Palestinian state impossible.
“Bibi says that he believes in the two-state solution and yet his actions consistently have shown that if he is getting pressured to approve more settlements he will do so regardless of what he says about the importance of the two-state solution,” Obama said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.
Some 570,000 Israelis now live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem, together home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians. Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognised internationally.
Obama, who leaves office on January 20, said that in the past few years both he and US Secretary of State John Kerry had “countless times” personally appealed to Netanyahu to stop settlement activity, but that those pleas were ignored.
“Increasingly what you are seeing is that the facts on the ground are making it almost impossible, at least very difficult, and if this trendline continues – impossible, to create a contiguous, functioning Palestinian state,” Obama told Channel Two’s Uvda programme.
Israel expects to receive more favourable treatment from President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump has denounced the Obama administration’s Israel policy and has vowed to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Occupied Jerusalem, riling the Palestinians. He has also named as US ambassador to Israel a lawyer who raised money for a major Jewish settlement.