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Israel-US rift deepens
March 21, 2015, 5:05 pm

Netanyahu appeared to backtrack on the issue of the Palestinian state following his election win on Tuesday, but the White House remains critical [Xinhua]

Netanyahu appeared to backtrack on the issue of the Palestinian state following his election win on Tuesday, but the White House remains critical [Xinhua]

A rift that has steadily grown over the years between Washington and Tel Aviv is likely to continue despite Benjamin Netanyahu emerging as the winner in Israel’s March 17 national elections.

An existing disagreement between the two historic allies over Iran’s nuclear program was exacerbated on the eve of the elections when Netanyahu pledged to increase the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law and have been a major impediment to a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu also said that he would prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, which has been a key provision of two decades of the peace process.

In a phone call to congratulate Netanyahu on his election win, US President Barack Obama emphasized the importance of a two-state solution.

Netanyahu has since the election appeared to reverse his position on the Palestinian state, but White House officials have indicated that they may not find his comments particularly trustworthy.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday questioned Netanyahu’s ‘flip-flopping’ on an issue that has been central to US foreign policy in the Middle East.

“The divergent comments of the prime minister legitimately call into question his commitment to this policy principle and his lack of commitment to what has been the foundation of our policy-making in the region,” Earnest said in a Friday press briefing.

Iran quotient

Ties have also been frayed over US official comments in the press that Washington and Tehran are closing the divide over Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been shuttling between Switzerland, Washington and some Arab capitals in the previous weeks, sounded optimistic when he spoke to reporters on Saturday.

Although some important gaps remain, Kerry said that “substantial progress has been made”.

The Iranians appeared to feel that there was light at the end of the process that began more than 15 months ago.

Iran’s news agency IRNA quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying that an agreement could be reached.

“There is nothing that cannot be resolved … shared points of view emerged in some of the areas where there had been a difference of opinion,” he said.

Iran is hopeful that the current talks could form “a foundation for a final agreement”.

But Netanyahu, who delivered a blistering speech critical of Obama’s Iran policy in Congress on March 3, sees things rather differently.

“A bad deal,” Netanyahu said of the agreement Kerry – and the P5+1 (permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) – had been trying to reach with Iran.

The Israeli prime minister favors a more aggressive approach with Iranian leaders.

The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies.

One Response to Israel-US rift deepens

  1. John Doe Reply

    March 22, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    It’s way past time to cut all US tax dollars and weapons going to Israel.

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