Saturday, March 21, 2015

White House on defending Israel at the UN: Administration needs to reevaluate what our policy will be

Campaign-2012-Obama-Netanyahu-20120302White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged on Friday that the Obama administration may be reevaluating what its policy will be concerning continuing to defend Israel at the United Nations.

Reporter: Josh, back to the reassessing U.S. policy towards Israel, you keep mentioning the United Nations in your responses. The practical matter of that is that in the past few years, the United States has lobbied long and hard against any resolution which would call for the establishment of the Palestinian State. Can you say unequivocally that is still going to be the position of the U.S.? Do you say it may not be the position of the U.S. in the future, wouldn't that then let the United Nations at least come up with the two state solution.

Earnest: The reason that the U.S. on a number of previous occasions has opposed a resolution like the one you described is that we have made the case to the international community that a solution shouldn't be imposed from the outside, because the two parties should come to the table and reach a negotiated settlement face toy face that results in a settlement which allows a democratic and Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. And we have said the best way to resolve this is at the negotiating table.

What has now changed, and that is the view of the -- not just of President Obama, but the unanimous view of Congress and the, was the view of the president's Republican predecessor. So the only thing that has changed is that our ally in those conversations --Israel-- has indicated that they are not committed to that approach any more.

If that is the case, it means we need to sort of rethink what our approach is going to be in the U.N. and other areas where we confront this question about how to resolve differences between those two peoples.

Reporter: It sounds like what you are saying is the U.S. would still be opposed to a U.N. resolution.

Earnest: Our justification for that opposition has been undermined based on comments by the Israeli P.M. So that is why we have been pretty candid about the fact that the administration now needs to reevaluate what our policy will be in this area. We will continue to believe that a two-state solution is in the best interest of the U.S. and the Israeli and Palestinian people. But that is a view not shared by the Israeli P.M. --or it is not clear if he holds that view anymore.

And so that certainly changes our justification for some of the decisions we make at the U.N. That is why those kinds of decisions will be reevaluated.

Reporter: Do you agree that there may be more pressure now on bringing up such a resolution at the U.N.?

Earnest: I would not pretend to be an expert about the diplomatic pressures that exist at the U.N. I'm not sure about that. I know there has been in the past and continues to be interest in the international community about a Security Council resolution like that. But the likelihood of something like that coming up or the time frame is something you can ask the State Dept.

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