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US-Israel relations hit new low after Bibi’s re-election as Israeli prime minister

US President Barack Obama says prospects for a two-state solution in the Middle East are “dim” after the Israeli prime minister vowed to oppose a Palestinian state. Mr Netanyahu’s statements angered the White House, even though he has since tried to soften his remark. Meanwhile, senior White House officials have learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks between US and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. US-Israel ties have hit a new low.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel had a difficult relationship long before Mr Netanyahu swept to victory this month.

But now Mr Netanyahu has won after aggressively campaigning against a Palestinian state and Mr Obama’s potential nuclear deal with Iran, the question is whether they can ever repair their relationship — and whether Mr Obama will even try.

In strikingly strong criticism, the White House has called Mr Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric, in which he railed against Israeli Arabs for going out to vote, an attempt to “marginalise Arab-Israeli citizens” and inconsistent with the values that bind Israel and the US. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters travelling with Mr Obama on Air Force One on Wednesday that Mr Netanyahu’s statement was “deeply concerning and divisive” and “these are views the administration intends to communicate directly to the Israelis”.

With Mr Netanyahu’s last-minute turnaround against a Palestinian state alongside Israel, several administration officials said the Obama administration may now agree to passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution embodying the principles of a two-state solution that would include Israel’s 1967 borders with Palestine and mutually agreed swaps of territory.

Those borders, subject of contentious talks for decades, include the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. Most foreign policy experts say Israel would have to cede territory in exchange for holding on to major West Bank Jewish settlement blocks. Such a Security Council resolution would be anathema to Mr Netanyahu. Although the principles are US policy, until now officials would never have endorsed them in the UN because that would have been seen as too antagonistic to Israel.

“The premise of our position internationally has been to support direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” a senior White House official said. “We are now in a reality where the Israeli government no longer supports direct negotiations.”

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