Obama Uses Final Meeting with Netanyahu to Push Palestinian State, Complain about Jewish Settlements

Obama and Netanyahu have had a rocky relationship, worsened by the Israeli leader's strident opposition to the Iran nuclear deal

NEW YORK — At a press event before his final meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while he is still in office, President Obama stressed he wants to “keep alive” the idea of creating a Palestinian state.

Obama also used the opportunity to complain about Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, commonly referred to as settlement activity.

“We do have concerns about settlement activity as well, and we hope that we can continue to be an effective partner with Israel on finding a path to peace,” Obama said prior to his hour-long meeting with Netanyahu at Obama’s hotel here in New York.

Without mentioning Hamas’s rise to power or the tenuous nature of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s rule, Obama used the press briefing to declare, “We need to keep alive the idea of Israel as a secure country alongside a Palestinian state.”

Obama said he would utilize the meeting with Netanyahu to better understand the Jewish state’s “opportunities and challenges over the next few years.”

Netanyahu for his part pointed to regional instability, explaining “It is a very difficult and dangerous time in the Middle East, and we want to make sure that Israel has the full capabilities it needs in order to keep the Israeli people safe.”

While highlighting the “fanaticism” of regional foes, Netanyahu stated,”The greatest opportunity is to advance … peace. That’s a goal that I and the people of Israel will never give up on.”

The relationship between Netanyahu and Obama has been a rocky one the last few years, with Netanyahu repeatedly speaking out against the U.S.-led international nuclear agreement with Iran.  Obama has clashed with Netanyahu over the construction of new Jewish homes in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

Yet Iran wasn’t once mentioned during today’s press briefing.

Instead, the two leaders sought to present a cordial front, with Netanyahu stating, “I want you to know, Barack, that you will always be a welcome guest” in Israel.

Obama replied that he plans to visit Israel when he leaves office “because it’s a beautiful country.”

The Jerusalem Post reported further on the meeting:

During the encounter, Netanyahu thanked the President for the recently signed military aid package that will give Israel $38 billion for defense over a decade beginning in 2019 and said it will ensure that Israel can defend itself against any threats.

“Israel has no bigger friend than America and America has no bigger friend than Israel,” Netanyahu reiterated.

US officials have maintained for months that Obama has not yet made up his mind whether or not he will deliver a speech before he leaves office on what he believes should be the parameters of a future peace deal, or whether the US would support or veto a new UN Security Council resolution on the issue.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.