U.S. to ‘Re-Evaluate’ Mideast Peace Strategy

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Obama and Netanyahu differ starkly on Iran and Middle East peace policy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive re-election on Tuesday likely has scuttled the possibility of a thaw in the White House’s frayed relationship with the leader of the U.S.’s closest Middle East ally.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. will “re-evaluate” its strategy on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, given Mr. Netanyahu’s victory came after he said he wouldn’t endorse the formation of a Palestinian state during his term.

“Based on those comments, the United States will re-evaluate our approach to that situation going forward,” Mr. Earnest said Wednesday.

Mr. Earnest said President Barack Obama’s position remains that a two-state solution is the best way to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace given the conflict “does serve to inflame tensions around the region and instability.”

Mr. Obama hasn’t called Mr. Netanyahu, but will “in coming days,” Mr. Earnest said. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Mr. Netanyahu Wednesday to congratulate him on his re-election, Mr. Earnest said. The White House didn’t offer congratulations to Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Earnest noted that Mr. Obama didn’t call Mr. Netanyahu the day after his previous election, but said he may not wait this time for Israel to complete the formation of a new government.

White House officials hold out little hope that, in the remaining 20 months of Mr. Obama’s term, the U.S. and Israeli leaders will be able to narrow their differences over a nuclear agreement with Iran or make progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, based on early assessments Wednesday. Beyond the personal discord between Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu, the two differ starkly on Iran and Middle East peace policy.

Mr. Netanyahu’s position that a peace plan shouldn’t include the creation of a Palestinian state, articulated Monday on the eve of an election polling showed to be razor close, leaves the possibility of resuming talks deeply uncertain.

“It’s going to be a very bumpy ride through the end of the Obama administration,” said David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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