Netanyahu's olive branch to the White House: I never said there can't be a Palestinian state; Update: We don't believe you, says White House

Via the Corner. Didn’t he say, er, three days ago that if Israelis reelect him there won’t be a Palestinian state on his watch? And wasn’t that itself a reversal of his stated position in 2009, that he supports a two-state solution?

What he said Monday:

Asked by an interviewer with the Israeli news site, NRG, if it was true that a Palestinian nation would never be formed while he’s prime minister, Netanyahu replied, “Indeed.”

“Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel,” he said. “This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years.”…

A vote for Herzog or Livni is a vote for the establishment of “Hamastan,” Netanyahu said, referring to Hamas, the Islamist group which dominates Gaza. He further alleged that his opponents would yield to international pressure and “huge financial support coming from abroad, from left-leaning tycoons and foreign governments.”

What he said to Andrea Mitchell in his first post-election U.S. interview today:

“I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution,” Netanyahu said Thursday in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I haven’t changed my policy.”…

“I’m talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable,” Netanyahu said Thursday, insisting that he would support a demilitarized Palestinian state under a plan that would ensure Israel’s security.

Those statements are reconcilable — a peaceful Palestine is still many years away, and since Bibi won’t sign off on anything less, it means his career will end without one — but let’s be real. He needed to consolidate the Israeli right behind Likud for the election so he hinted that a Palestinian state is off the table; a few days later, safely reelected, his big problem is Obama trying to jam him up at the UN with a formal resolution endorsing a Palestinian state or by letting Palestine join the International Criminal Court. Today’s kinda sorta conciliatory remarks are either Netanyahu’s version of an olive branch or (more likely) an early bid to shape the inevitable PR war in the U.S. and Israel when Obama starts playing hardball with him. If he’s on record as backing a two-state solution, then his position technically hasn’t changed, in which case America’s stance at the UN shouldn’t change either. Or maybe Bibi’s worried that as things turn even nastier between him and the White House, the Democratic rank-and-file will start to turn on Israel and support for the country will finally begin to skew along partisan lines in the U.S. Democrats don’t want that, as it’ll cost them Jewish votes and contributions; Netanyahu shouldn’t want it either, given the Democratic demographic advantage in presidential elections of late. Obama and Netanyahu aren’t going to agree on anything but they each have an interest in pretending relations are warmer than they are. In fact, watch Netanyahu go out of his way here to praise the unbreakable bond between the two countries, a position he and his friend Barack share.

He also responds below to American liberals’ heavy breathing over what he said the morning of the election about Arab voters turning out in droves. Referring to opposition turnout in racial terms was a crude way to goose his own base (even if what he said was true), but that sort of game is played all the time, including in the United States. Why, Dick Durbin played it just yesterday on the Senate floor with not a peep from our friends on the left about his demagoguery. (That tactic will become more common in the U.S. over the next few decades if the parties’ respective bases continue to skew along racial lines.) Read Reihan Salam’s post at the Corner for a narrative-busting truth bomb about how Netanyahu’s administration has actually worked to integrate Israeli Arabs into the country, economically and otherwise.

Update: An unbreakable bond, eh?

So far, [Netanyahu’s reversal on a Palestinian state is] not helping him get back in the White House’s good graces, and administration officials said they aren’t backing away from plans to “re-evaluate” its approach to dealing with the conflict…

“We believe he changed his position just a few days ago,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, asked about the interview on Thursday. “So certainly,” she added, “we can’t forget about those comments.”…

“This is a principle that he no longer subscribes to, and that his nation no longer subscribes to. That means the United States needs to rethink our approach,” Earnest said.

Will Obama add to his legacy of getting suckered by terror states by midwifing a new one in Palestine? Stay tuned!

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