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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Israel risking international sanctions over settlements – Obama

FILE PHOTO. U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters / Jason Reed)

Ahead of talks between the US leader and Israeli PM Netanyahu in Washington on Monday, Obama warned that the United States may not be able to protect Israel if a two-state solution with the Palestinians fails.

Following nine months of failed efforts to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Obama warned in an interview with Bloomberg that Israel risked international sanctions.

Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg that if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach. There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices.”

On his part, however, Netanyahu has vowed to hold steady in the face of heavy international pressure for a settlement with the Palestinians, who won de facto recognition in the 193-nation UN General Assembly in November 2012.

"In recent years, the state of Israel has been under various pressures," Netanyahu said, AP reported. "We have rejected them in the face of the unprecedented storm and unrest in the region and are maintaining stability and security. This is what has been and what will be."

There are an estimated 4.3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with aspirations to achieve a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital – just one of many sticking points in the process.

Obama, however, is of the opinion that Netanyahu could guide the Israeli state toward peace if he chose to do so.

“If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?” Obama asked.

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