White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Monday called for the end of the Israel’s “50 year- occupation” of Palestine and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.
In a speech to J Street, an Israel advocacy group, McDonough said that: “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to live in and govern themselves in their own sovereign state.”
“In the end, we know what a peace agreement should look like. The borders of Israel and an independent Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. Each state needs secure and recognised borders, and there must be robust provisions that safeguard Israel’s security,” he stressed.
The US presidential chief aide added that, “the best way to safeguard Israel’s long-term security is to bring about a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
McDonough pointed out that Washington “has long advocated direct negotiations” towards a two-state solution; a position that Netanyahu embraced in his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University.
“That’s why the prime minister’s comments on the eve of the election, which made very clear that a Palestinian state will not be established while he is prime minister, were so very troubling,” McDonough said, in reference to comments made by Netanyahu in a pre-election interview with the NRG website.
McDonough said: “”We cannot simply pretend that these comments were never made.”
“We will look to the next Israeli government to match words with action and to policies that demonstrates a commitment to a two-state solution,” he continued.
Prior to his election, Netanyahu released two provocative statements, the first a pledge that no Palestinian state would be established if he were to be elected; and the second a call to Israeli voters to rush to poll stations to save him from Israeli Arab votes. The White House rejected Netanyahu’s remarks, saying the first indicates the former prime minister is not serious about solving the conflict, and the second was seen as belying racial prejudice that aims to marginalise the Arab minority in Israel.
McDonough denied claims that the White House was reviewing its support for Israel because of “personal malice” in reference to strained relations between the US president and Netanyahu, stressing instead his country’s commitment to solving the conflict, which he said is was a goal that every Republican and Democrat President “sought to achieve”.
The White House chief said the Obama administration will continue to view the Israeli settlements as activities that undermine peace.
Earlier, White House spokesman Josh Ernest said that the US administration will continue to reconsider its policy towards Israel, “even if Benjamin Netanyahu apologises for his remarks“, while Netanyahu made an apology to Israel’s Arab and Druze citizens for his remarks.
– Read more: Middle East Monitor