US President Barack Obama (YouTube/Screenshot) (YouTube/Screenshot)
Obama addresses Iranian people

In an interview on Israeli TV, Obama claimed that the US abstention from an anti-Israel UN resolution last month condemning Israeli settlements was the “best move for peace.”

US President Barack Obama warned in an interview broadcast Tuesday on Israel’s Channel 2 that “unfettered support” for Israel’s settlement policies would lead to a “worsening situation” over time between Israelis and Palestinians.

The interview, filmed in Washington last week, appeared 10 days before Obama, who has been an outspoken critic of the Netanyahu government particularly concerning Israeli communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, hands over the reins to President-elect Donald Trump, who takes an entirely different approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict, among most other issues.

“If the notion is that unfettered support for Israel or, more specifically, support for the Netanyahu government’s policies — no matter what they are, no matter how inimical they may be to the prospects for peace — if that’s what qualifies as a good friend, then I think that we will see a worsening situation over time,” Obama said during the interview.

Netanyahu has accused the Obama administration of colluding with the Palestinians when it abstained last month from voting on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli “settlements.” On Tuesday, Netanyahu reiterated that claim, saying Israel had “solid information” that proved the US was behind the drafting of the resolution.

Obama defended the abstention in the interview, saying, “I believe it was the best move for peace.”

Obama Denies Personal Animosity Towards Netanyahu

The outgoing president also denied any personal animosity towards the Israeli leader. “The differences between our administrations were often presented as being personal disputes, but this was not the case. Every time we met we had a cordial and honest conversation, and there is a wide range of issues on which we agree,” he said, conceding that there “are some notable issues on which we have profound disagreements.”

“We did not agree with every part of the UN resolution. Therefore, we abstained and did not vote for it.” Obama continued. “We insisted that we would impose a veto on anything that does not make a commitment to balancing the importance of the Palestinians to reduce the violence and stop the incitement. But I really believe it is important to send a message and to bring the facts about what is happening with settlements in the West Bank.”

Netanyahu routinely dismisses international criticism of the “settlements,” saying the conflict predates them. Indeed, Jewish settlements have existed in Judea and Samaria, the cradle of Jewish civilization, since biblical times.

The region of Judea and Samaria was renamed the “West Bank” in April 1950 after it was illegally annexed by Jordan.

The land was liberated in 1967 during the Six-Day War of defense against invading Arab nations.

Any More Surprises Before Trump Inauguration?

Obama said he cannot understand Israel’s sense of betrayal, saying that he will “continue to do what I think is right.”

Asked if Israel can expect any more surprises before January 20, Obama avoided the question, saying that “the question is whether he [Netanyahu] will sleep better after January 20th.”

By: United with Israel and AP

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