US President Barack Obama has made a “realistic assessment” that a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians is not possible during his final months in office, US officials said Thursday.
While Obama remains committed to a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, he does not believe it could happen before he leaves office in January 2017, barring a major shift, officials said.
The officials spoke to reporters ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House on Monday. It will be the first time Obama and Netanyahu have met face-to-face since the US and its international partners reached a nuclear accord with Iran.
Netanyahu has called the Iran deal a “historic mistake.” He sees Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon as an existential threat to Israel and to the world – a conclusion shared by the Israeli Opposition – and has argued that the agreement leaves Tehran within reach of a bomb. Furthermore, the Israelis say, the removal of sanctions will help finance the Islamic Republic’s global terror network.
While the nuclear accord is expected to be a major focus of their discussions, the two leaders will also discuss the fresh wave of Palestinian terror across Israel that began two months ago, and Obama is expected to ask Netanyahu for suggestions as to how to keep the two-state solution viable notwithstanding the absence of negotiations.
“This is really the first time since the first term of the Clinton administration where we have an administration that faces a reality where the prospect of a negotiated two-state solution is not in the cards for the time that’s remaining,” said Rob Malley, National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf Region.
Obama has accepted the fact that “barring a major shift, the parties are not going to be in a position to negotiate a final status agreement,” he said.