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Obama quote: ‘Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are’

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(JTA) — President Obama has said privately that "Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are,” columnist Jeffrey Goldberg wrote.

In a column posted on the Bloomberg website late Monday, Goldberg wrote that when Obama was told that the Israeli government had approved plans to advance the development of housing in the controversial E-1 corridor between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem, the president "didn’t even bother getting angry."

"In the weeks after the U.N. vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, ‘Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.’ With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation," Goldberg wrote.

Goldberg called Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu "complicated," and said Obama has been a "reliable ally" on "matters of genuine security." He criticized Netanyahu for supporting Republican candidate Mitt Romney in last November’s U.S. presidential election.

"Obama, since his time in the Senate, has been consistent in his analysis of Israel’s underlying challenge: If it doesn’t disentangle itself from the lives of West Bank Palestinians, the world will one day decide it is behaving as an apartheid state," Goldberg wrote.

Goldberg suggests that Israel "may one day soon notice a significant shift" in American diplomatic protection in venues such as the United Nations.

If another issue, such as a vote on Palestinian statehood, arises again in the United Nations, "It wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. failed to whip votes the next time, or if the U.S. actually abstained. I wouldn’t be particularly surprised, either, if Obama eventually offered a public vision of what a state of Palestine should look like, and affirmed that it should have its capital in East Jerusalem," Goldberg wrote.

"What Obama wants is recognition by Netanyahu that Israel’s settlement policies are foreclosing on the possibility of a two-state solution, and he wants Netanyahu to acknowledge that a two-state solution represents the best chance of preserving the country as a Jewish-majority democracy. Obama wants, in other words, for Netanyahu to act in Israel’s best interests."

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