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US restates positions as Israeli government takes shape

Senior Obama administration officials have reiterated the president's commitment in a 2009 Cairo speech to the two-state solution, reinforcing the US stance to Netanyahu's new government.
U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, April 3, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool  - RTR4W06S
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As expected, the message that Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman relayed this week has attracted considerable interest in Jerusalem. She stated that the US administration plans to take a close look at the new government formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to determine if it “looks like it has stepped back from its commitment to a two-state solution.” Sherman’s prognosis that if Israel does in fact fail to advance this solution — “It will be harder for us to prevent internationalizing the [Palestinian-Israeli] conflict” — was taken as a warning that active US support, or at least fence-sitting, when the Palestine issue comes up for a vote in international forums, would be at risk.

The comments by this senior official, made at a Reform Movement conference in Washington, join the response by White House spokesman Josh Earnest to Netanyahu’s campaign declaration that he opposes a two-state solution. Earnest said that this forces the United States to “evaluate” its approach toward Israel. Both messages insinuate that the freeze in negotiations over a two-state solution may offer a reprise of sorts, but it comes at a cost. The Obama administration wants to make it clear that Netanyahu can no longer rely on a right-wing coalition and policies, pay lip service to a two-state solution and also benefit from an automatic US veto of UN Security Council resolutions.

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