President Obama To Netanyahu: Seize This Moment

U.S. President Barack Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas


Jeffrey Goldberg: Obama To Israel — Time Is Running Out

GOLDBERG: Do you believe he’s the most moderate person you’re going to find?

OBAMA: I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist, to recognize Israel’s legitimate security needs, to shun violence, to resolve these issues in a diplomatic fashion that meets the concerns of the people of Israel. And I think that this is a rare quality not just within the Palestinian territories, but in the Middle East generally. For us not to seize that opportunity would be a mistake. And I think John is referring to that fact.

We don’t know exactly what would happen. What we know is that it gets harder by the day. What we also know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally. We had to stand up in the Security Council in ways that 20 years ago would have involved far more European support, far more support from other parts of the world when it comes to Israel’s position. And that’s a reflection of a genuine sense on the part of a lot of countries out there that this issue continues to fester, is not getting resolved, and that nobody is willing to take the leap to bring it to closure.

In that kind of environment, where you’ve got a partner on the other side who is prepared to negotiate seriously, who does not engage in some of the wild rhetoric that so often you see in the Arab world when it comes to Israel, who has shown himself committed to maintaining order within the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority and to cooperate with Israelis around their security concerns — for us to not seize this moment I think would be a great mistake. I’ve said directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu he has an opportunity to solidify, to lock in, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel that is at peace with its neighbors and —


GOLDBERG: With permanent borders?

OBAMA: With permanent borders. And has an opportunity also to take advantage of a potential realignment of interests in the region, as many of the Arab countries see a common threat in Iran. The only reason that that potential realignment is not, and potential cooperation is not, more explicit is because of the Palestinian issue.

GOLDBERG: My impression watching your relationship with Netanyahu over the years is that you admire his intelligence and you admire his political skill, but you also get frustrated by an inability or unwillingness on his part to spend political capital — in terms of risking coalition partnerships — in order to embrace what he says he accepts, a two-state solution. Is that a fair statement? When he comes to Washington, how hard are you going to push him out of his comfort zone?

OBAMA: What is absolutely true is Prime Minister Netanyahu is smart. He is tough. He is a great communicator. He is obviously a very skilled politician. And I take him at his word when he says that he sees the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think he genuinely believes that. I also think that politics in Israel around this issue are very difficult. You have the chaos that’s been swirling around the Middle East. People look at what’s happening in Syria. They look at what’s happening in Lebanon. Obviously, they look at what’s happening in Gaza. And understandably a lot of people ask themselves, “Can we afford to have potential chaos at our borders, so close to our cities?” So he is dealing with all of that, and I get that.


What I’ve said to him privately is the same thing that I say publicly, which is the situation will not improve or resolve itself. This is not a situation where you wait and the problem goes away. There are going to be more Palestinians, not fewer Palestinians, as time goes on. There are going to be more Arab-Israelis, not fewer Arab-Israelis, as time goes on.

And for Bibi to seize the moment in a way that perhaps only he can, precisely because of the political tradition that he comes out of and the credibility he has with the right inside of Israel, for him to seize this moment is perhaps the greatest gift he could give to future generations of Israelis. But it’s hard. And as somebody who occupies a fairly tough job himself, I’m always sympathetic to somebody else’s politics.


I have not yet heard, however, a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario. The only thing that I’ve heard is, “We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing, and deal with problems as they arise. And we’ll build settlements where we can. And where there are problems in the West Bank, we will deal with them forcefully. We’ll cooperate or co-opt the Palestinian Authority.” And yet, at no point do you ever see an actual resolution to the problem.

GOLDBERG: So, maintenance of a chronic situation?

OBAMA: It’s maintenance of a chronic situation. And my assessment, which is shared by a number of Israeli observers, I think, is there comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?


GOLDBERG: You sound worried.

OBAMA: Well, I am being honest that nobody has provided me with a clear picture of how this works in the absence of a peace deal. If that’s the case — one of the things my mom always used to tell me and I didn’t always observe, but as I get older I agree with — is if there’s something you know you have to do, even if it’s difficult or unpleasant, you might as well just go ahead and do it, because waiting isn’t going to help. When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my conversation: If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?

This is not an issue in which we are naive about the challenges. I deal every day with very difficult choices about U.S. security. As restrained, and I think thoughtful, as our foreign policy has been, I’m still subject to constant criticism about our counterterrorism policies, and our actions in Libya, and our lack of military action in Syria.

And so if I’m thinking about the prime minister of Israel, I’m not somebody who believes that it’s just a matter of changing your mind and suddenly everything goes smoothly. But I believe that Bibi is strong enough that if he decided this was the right thing to do for Israel, that he could do it. If he 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. And as I said before, it’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.

More here


131 Responses to “President Obama To Netanyahu: Seize This Moment”

  1. 1 symmetry11
    March 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Hey TOD…I am an OFA digital lead in my area. We just received the following email for tomorrow. Will you all please help me in getting #TimetoEnroll trending tomorrow? I would certainly appreciate it.

    Using the hashtag #TimeToEnroll, this Monday at 10am Central Time, we’ll be joining with national partners to raise awareness that March is the last month to get enrolled through the health insurance marketplace AND be covered in 2014. In order for this to be effective, we’ll need all hands on deck to help trend this important effort.

    This is a crucial final month for us organizationally. Thanks to you, we’ve helped so many people take their first steps to getting health insurance for the first time in their lives. Keep kicking butt and taking names.

    • 2 Judith Fardig
      March 2, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      Symmetry – Congrats on first and many thanks for the heads up on the hashtag!!

    • March 2, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      symmetry, Congrats on 1st and thank you for your leadership!!!

      Will gladly promote the #TimetoRoll effort, tomorrow.

      Dear Nerdy Wonka – FANTASTIC, as always. Thank you!!!

    • March 2, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Congrats on 1rst & being digital lead, Symmetry! Will use #TimetoEnroll from now on re: any ACA tweets. On a side note have you seen the slew of new Healthcare Market Place ads of late? Just saw the newest one during the playoff hole at the Honda Classic PGA tournament today. They are everywhere!

      • 7 symmetry11
        March 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

        Thanks for sharing these. I have not seen much of anything lately. Been really busy with OFA.

        • March 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm

          NP, it double posted the link. If you click on the Youtube page in the link, the 2nd one I was trying to post was of a white, middle-aged welder, extolling the virtues of the ACA. Youtube gets weird on me depending on how some pages are set up, but if you want to share…… there are 3 new ads in the past week I have seen on every television platform/show.

    • 9 GGail
      March 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      symmetry11, congrats on First and YES all hands are ready to help!

  2. March 2, 2014 at 7:02 pm

  3. March 2, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    • March 2, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      LP, hope you saw my comment in the previous thread concurring with you.

      Moreover …

      … something that seems to get lost in the conversation – that pipeline ain’t ‘one way’ 🙂

    • March 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      LOVE maps!

      Can’t get enough.

      Thanks, LP!

        • 17 carolyn
          March 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

          I Love maps too. Sometimes in the evening I sit with the atlas on my lap mentally traveling…..so, the series of 22 maps showing the Russian Empire and the birth of the Ukraine as an entity, was helpful to me. I noticed that the Russian Empire was at its peak in 1850. I have no doubt that Putin would like for his empire to become that large again.

          I know from visiting in Europe and studying history, that the Europeans do NOT want any war on their territory ever again. They remember World Wars I and II. My history professor friend who has studied and traveled extensively, says that Europe really still has not recovered totally from World War I, a war that cost us little, but cost them an exceeding high amount.

          We visited France three years ago, and one of our visits was to a World War I battleground, Vimy Ridge, a Canadian battle site. Every day people still go out looking for unexploded ordnance and find some. Every spring during planting, one or several farmers in northern France and southern Belgium are killed during spring planting and plowing time. These are consequences we do not even know exist.

          I have no doubt Angela Merkel will work very hard to keep a war from beginning. She lived with the results.

  4. 18 japa21
    March 2, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Putin, the Middle-East and the GOP. Combined , the three most difficult challenges any President has had to. Glad it is PBO having to deal with them.

  5. March 2, 2014 at 7:13 pm

  6. 20 japa21
    March 2, 2014 at 7:13 pm

  7. 28 vcprezofan2
    March 2, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Too much Bibi visual, Utal. 😉 I don’t like him – at all, at all! He turned my spirit from the moment he was a guest in PBO’s ‘home’ and tried to turn his ‘colleagues’ against him. Matters not that PBO’s colleagues were themselves disloyal, IMO he was a guest and way out of line. Ever since then I’ve been patiently waiting for Bibi to meet his waterloo, or his karma, or whatever, so that he can realize his ‘rightful place’ – as supplicant.

  8. March 2, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I;m imagining the village is demanding these…….

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    • 30 anniebella
      March 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Pharrell Williams and those shorts, don’t do it for me. If he likes the look well his choice.

      • 31 CEB
        March 2, 2014 at 8:15 pm

        He is 40 years old (yes,I know he does not look it); time to ditch the foolish almost desperate fashion choices and to go for classic high fashion, which can be edgy if done right. He just looks ridiculous. Oh, well; whatever rocks his boat.

  9. March 2, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    This has the potential to be a great talk show…….Wier & Lipinski (If you watched early morning coverage of Sochi, you know what I’m talking about)

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    • March 2, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      OK, those were not formatted correctly…… thus ending my dive into Oscar correspondent. Need a BT to edit please. Hope everyone enjoys their evening………. I’m getting pounded by another snow storm 😦 everyone stay/drive safely this week!

    • 34 Dudette
      March 2, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      The “Weir and Lipinski” segments during the Olympics were quite the entertainment.

      • 35 CEB
        March 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm

        Actually they annoyed me, as if the Olympics was about their little act and fashion show. I always switched from them to listen to these two other skating experts (I think they were British) that were also on the NBC Olympics site.
        Where does a grown man find leggings?

    • 36 CEB
      March 2, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      My, my, my (deep sigh). If only….

  10. 38 susanne
    March 2, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    thanks for posting this interview, nerdywonka. it’s an excellent read in its entirety–great view into the president’s thinking on international diplomacy vs sword rattling. i’m so, so very grateful that pbo is sitting in the white house right now!!

  11. March 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I could never ever look this beautiful while about to pop out a baby:

  12. March 2, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Notice Germany is missing

  13. 47 dotster3
    March 2, 2014 at 7:45 pm


  14. March 2, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Late to the Ukraine discussion, which will now be overtaken by #Oscars buzz, LOL.

    Quick note to say that I saw Fareed Zakaria this morning and he provided good background info despite having @KatrinaNation’s hubby, Steve Cohen on.

    The LOL moment occurred when Cohen said that if Canada and Mexico formed a pact against the US, the US military would invade Canada. Fareed just looked at him and said, “No, I don’t think so.” (or words to that effect, LOL)

    – It’s 60th anniversary of Khrushchev giving Crimea to Ukraine. (Wiki: On 19 February 1954, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union issued a decree transferring the Crimean Oblast from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.)
    – Zakaria referred to a 1994 agreement that russia would not invade ukraine in return for ukraine giving up nukes.
    – Russia being included in the G8 was a reward for Russia not being a rogue state.
    – Russia defense budget 18x that of ukraine.
    – China will oppose Russia’s brazen violation of national sovereignty
    – Warned about radicalized Crimean Tatars (similar to the Chechnean insurgency that has terrorized and killed so many people over the past decade or so.
    – Zarkaria echoed our Bobfr, and said that price Putin will pay for his aggression will be quite high

    Here’s my contribution to the #Snowdenwald, et. al., pushback:

    Recall that I believe #Snowdenwald dudebro supporters imagine themselves as cyber avengers (aka white male comic strip heroes).

  15. March 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Fact: Ukrainians are way, way tougher than Vlad …

  16. March 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    GWBush was such a horrible President in so many ways.

    The Middle East suffered for 7 years when Condi decided in GWB’s last year that she should make an effort to get agreement from those countries. Just a pitiful, pathetic effort.

    After the mess that GWB left the country and President Obama, so glad to see Kerry in action (in Kiev while Netanyahu is here… )

  17. March 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm

  18. 77 Allison
    March 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Lupita’s fashion stylist

  19. 78 japa21
    March 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    PBO is not the type to savage an opponent and, if we look at his history, will generally give an opponent a chance to save face when beaten. Even the “Please proceed Governor” was giving Romney an opportunity to back out of a situation before it got out of hand. However, if his opponent does not that opportunity when it is offered him, all bets are off.

  20. March 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Convenient web page for you to follow what’s happening to the Ruble ….


  21. March 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm

  22. March 2, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    This is the loveliness of modern life: watching “Nebraska” on VOD, and blogging. Life is good.

  23. 82 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Paralympics starts in Sochi on Mar 7. Sure hope Stalingrad Vlad skidaddles his boys back home by then.

  24. 83 Allison
    March 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm

  25. 85 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Fashion Squeeee!

  26. 86 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    • 87 CEB
      March 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      They need to. The only Black “princess” that they had was one whose biggest dream was to own a restaurant. She spent most of the movie as a frog and when she went to the ball she wore the hand-me-downs of the white “friend.” The message for little black girls was that this is the best that they could expect. Disney should have been ashamed of themselves.

  27. March 2, 2014 at 8:21 pm

  28. 90 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm

  29. 91 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:27 pm


  30. 92 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    But wait, there’s more…

  31. 93 Nerdy Wonka
    March 2, 2014 at 8:29 pm


    Everyone else? Go home.

  32. 96 Allison
    March 2, 2014 at 8:29 pm

  33. 113 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Ellen’s on fiyah! 🙂

  34. 115 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

  35. 116 GGail
    March 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    East Coaster’s please remember – it hasn’t come on out here yet 😀

  36. 117 GGail
    March 2, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Ok, it’s begun now

  37. March 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    • 119 carolyn
      March 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Has anyone else noticed a new sense of readiness of cooperation from France since Hollande’s visit to the U.S.? His statement came out immediately after Canada’s, and I think, before Cameron’s. There was not the usual hemming and hawing from him over this.

      As I mentioned earlier, France suffered through two ward in the 20th century being fought on its ground. They still remember, and are not anxious to see another war in Europe or close.

      • 120 CEB
        March 2, 2014 at 9:02 pm

        The fact that PBO was so welcoming to him in the very beginning (remember he had been elected only a few days before a G-8 meeting; PBO took him under his wing) and the State dinner, after a period of 20 years, I am sure helped to cement their working relationship.

  38. 121 donna dem 4 obama
    March 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Kerry Washington looks stunning!!!

  39. 122 donna dem 4 obama
    March 2, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Okay Pharrell has me getting my Let’s Move on….

  40. 124 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Earworm Alert!

    Yay Pharrell!!!

  41. 127 CEB
    March 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    We are so weird (in a good way). On one thread we talk about serious world affairs, beautiful babies, racist haters of PBO, and the divine foolishness that is Hollywood. I love it!!!

  42. 128 Allison
    March 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

  43. 129 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 8:58 pm

  44. 131 Dudette
    March 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Still wearing that sexy diamond earring. Love my Harrison Ford!

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