In his last interview as president, Obama again denigrated Israeli communities in the historic Jewish homeland. 

The growth of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria has “gotten so substantial” that it is inhibiting the possibility for an “effective, contiguous Palestinian state,” Barack Obama charged in his final interview as US president.

Speaking to CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Obama dismissed the idea that there is a “major rupture” in the relationship between the US and Israel after last month’s decision by the US to abstain from a United Nations (UN) vote condemning Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

“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 said of Netanyahu’s reaction to his decision to abstain at the UNSC. ”So that part of it wasn’t new. And despite all the noise and hullabaloo– military cooperation, intelligence cooperation, all of that has continued. We have defended them consistently in every imaginable way. But 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.“

“Because of our investment in the region, and because we care so deeply about Israel, I think (the US) has a legitimate interest in saying to a friend, ‘This is a problem,'” Obama said. “It would have long-term consequences for peace and security in the region and the United States.”

The outgoing president reflected on his legacy and his biggest challenges during his eight years in office during the hourlong interview. A number of his policies — from health care to his contentious relationship with Israel — could be short-lived as President-elect Donald Trump becomes the 45th president later this week and vows to reverse some of those policies.

Trump has accused Obama of throwing up “inflammatory” roadblocks during the transition of power as well as blaming his administration for treating Israel with “total disdain.”

Obama acknowledged it’s been an “unusual” transition, adding, “I suspect the president-elect would agree with that.”

By: United with Israel Staff
AP contributed to this report.

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