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Obama holds Netanyahu to pre-election promise

The White House is taking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "at his word" after Netanyahu abandoned a two-state solution ahead of election day.
US President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in Washington Oct. 1, 2014. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
US President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in Washington Oct. 1, 2014.

President Obama is holding newly-re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to comments he made in the run-up to election day, in which he abandoned his support for a two-state solution, according to an interview with The Huffington Post.  

“We’ve taken [Netanyahu] at his word when he said that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Obama said Friday. 

On the eve of election day, Netanyahu said in an interview with the NRG news website, “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel,” according to The Times of Israel.

Under heavy criticism, Netanyahu walked back those comments during his first American television interview post-election, saying that he hasn’t. 

“I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a two-state solution,” Netanyahu told NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell. When Mitchell reminded Netanyahu that he was “elected on a mandate against a two-state solution,” and that the White House was interpreting it as such, Netanyahu said that a two-state solution is not possible unless Palestinians abandon Hamas. 

Related: 5 things to know from Netanyahu’s first post-election interview

The Israeli Ambassador to the United States doubled down on Netanyahu’s post-election position on “Meet the Press” Sunday, and suggested that the White House is “misinterpreting” Netanyahu’s pre-election interview as a stand against a two-state solution. 

“He didn’t say what the president and others seem to suggest that he’s saying,” Ambassador Ron Dermer told moderator Chuck Todd. “Our concern, Chuck, is that a Palestinian state today would be a terrorist state.” 

In the Huffington Post interview, Obama did not say whether recent developments have changed the U.S. position against a Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations. 

“We know that the U.S. has stood for decades against all these anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, and we hope that policy continues,” Dermer said. 

President Obama reserved his harshest criticism for Netanyahu’s Facebook video posted hours before poll close, in which he asserted that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the ballot boxes.” 

“Left-wing organizations bring them in busses,” the Prime Minister claimed in a video posted to Facebook. 

“We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions,” Obama told the Huffington Post. “That although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly. And I think that that is what’s best about Israeli democracy. If that is lost then I think that to only does it give ammunition to folks who do’t believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the meaning of democracy in the country.”