The PJ Tatler

State Department Won't 'Prejudge' Siding with Palestinians After Netanyahu Win

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with victorious Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in “a brief phone call,” according to the State Department.

“Secretary Kerry called the prime minister this morning to congratulate him,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “Given there is an ongoing government formation process, they did not discuss substantive issues. So, the purpose of the call was to congratulate him on the election.”

White House press secretary told reporters aboard Air Force One today that President Obama could call Netanyahu “in the coming days.” Earnest added that in two previous Israeli elections Obama did not telephone Netanyahu until the Likud leader was directed by the Israeli president to form a government.

Psaki was asked if the call between Kerry and Netanyahu was “warm.”

“I’m not going to characterize the tone of the call,” she replied. “I was not on the call with them.”

Asked about Netanyahu’s response? “I am sure you can ask that question of the Israeli government,” Psaki said.

She cautioned reporters to not “read into it.”

“It’s just a simple congratulatory call. Those are typically meant and happen after elections. It was not more extensive than that,” she added.

With Netanyahu firmly defying his critics, many are wondering if some diplomatic revenge is in store. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeed Erekat vowed that the Palestinian Authority will press forward with anti-Israel efforts at the International Criminal Court and United Nations, and the U.S. could decide to veto or not a resolution seeking international recognition for a Palestinian state.

“Well, we are not going to get ahead of any decisions about what the United States would do with potential action at the United — U.N. Security Council. I will reiterate that it has long been the position of the United States under Republican and Democratic presidents and it has been the position of successive Israeli governments that only a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and independent Palestine can bring lasting peace and stability to both peoples,” Psaki said.

“A two-state solution is the only way for the next Israeli government to secure Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We believe that is in the best interest of the United States, Israel and the region,” she continued. “The prime minister, as we all know, in his comments earlier this week indicated that he is no longer committed to pursuing this approach. Based on the prime minister’s comments, the United States is in a position going forward, where we will be evaluating our approach with regard to how best to achieve a two-state solution.”

“Obviously, I’m not going to prejudge at this point what that means.”

Pressed on the issue, Psaki said that the “preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly; but certainly, while that’s been our position, obviously the prime minister’s position has changed.”

Psaki also said she doesn’t think Netanyahu’s win “has impacted the Iran negotiations, or will.”

“Certainly, his recent comments on opposition to the Palestinians having a state have — have caused us to evaluate our approach moving forward,” she said. “But beyond that, there are issues we work together on that we will continue to.”