President Barack Obama said yesterday he was worried that the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were waning because of growing Israeli settlement of the West Bank.
Obama told a news conference that his administration did not block a recent UN
resolution on Israeli settlement activity because it felt a two-state solution was the only option for peace.
“The goal of the resolution was to simply say that the growth of the settlements are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible,” Obama told the news conference, his last as president. “It was important for us to send a signal, a wakeup call that this moment may be passing.”
He warned his successor Donald Trump against any “sudden, unilateral moves” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in an apparent reference to his plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The president-elect will have his own policy,” Obama said.
“But obviously it’s a volatile environment. What we have seen in the past is when some unilateral moves are made that speak to some of the core issues and sensitivities of either side, that can be explosive.”
Obama said it is in the world’s interest for the United States and Russia to have a constructive relationship, but Russia’s return to an “adversarial spirit” under President Vladimir Putin made that difficult.
“I think that it is in America’s interest, in the world’s interest, that we have a constructive relationship with Russia,” Obama said.
He said he would take a break from politics upon leaving office, but would not hesitate to speak up if America’s “core values” are questioned, citing concerns about discrimination and freedom of the press.
In a veiled warning to his successor Trump, Obama also said systematic discrimination or any effort to “round up” immigrant youths “arbitrarily or because of politics would merit me speaking out.”
“There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” Obama said.
He defended his decision to commute the sentence of transgender army private Chelsea Manning, who was jailed for 35 years for handing classified US documents to WikiLeaks.
Obama pardoned 64 people and commuted the sentences of 209 others – including Manning, who will now be released in May – in one of his last acts in office
US President Barack Obama pauses during his last press conference at the White House in Washington yesterday.