When President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the United Nations on Wednesday, they made it clear that they’re reading from the same script.
Only negotiation, Obama and Netanyahu said, can resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Both the United States and Israel have strongly opposed the Palestinians’ plan to bring a statehood bid before the U.N. Security Council on Friday.
“One-sided actions in the U.N will achieve neither statehood nor self-determination” for the Palestinians, Obama said, reiterating words from his speech to the General Assembly earlier Wednesday morning and his support for a two-state solution achieved through direct talks.
Backed by alternating American and Israeli flags, Netanyahu and Obama—whose relationship has been strained—almost seemed to finish each other’s sentences.
“We both agree that this is the only way to achieve peace,” Netanyahu said, while thanking Obama effusively for his support. “I think this is a badge of honor, and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor,” the Israeli leader said of the U.S. promise to oppose the Palestinian bid.
“My hope is that there will be others in the world, responsible leaders" who will join the United States in backing a negotiated solution, Netanyahu said. But he also acknowledged that international leaders may be under "enormous pressure" to oppose Israel, and that anti-Israel motions at the U.N. often have an “automatic majority.”
Obama will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later on Wednesday afternoon. The meetings between Obama and Israeli and Palestinian leaders come amid increasing pressure, both international and domestic. Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry on Tuesday called Obama’s Middle East policy “naïve, arrogant, misguided, and dangerous," arguing that by calling for negotiations Obama was not adequately supporting a key democratic ally.
Thousands of Palestinians rallied across the West Bank on Wednesday in support of the statehood request, the AFP reported. Israel has boosted its security forces in the West Bank in anticipation of possible violence surrounding the Palestinians' statehood bid.